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Broken Ladder

Removing barriers for community college students

Community colleges are touted as an affordable option that prepare students — particularly students of color, first-generation students and more — for a secure livelihood. But how real is the return? And how has funding and enrollment for these schools been impacted by the pandemic? 

Four INN members — Borderless Magazine, BridgeDetroit, Sahan Journal and Wisconsin Watch — tackle these questions in our Broken Ladder collaboration.

Read stories in the collaboration below.


Broken Ladder: ‘It seemed like a no-brainer to pursue.’

Four INN newsrooms spent several months reporting on community colleges in Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee and Minneapolis/St. Paul. The participants explored the barriers facing community college students, who are often immigrants and people of color.

Midwestern community colleges work to lure, and keep, students struggling with poverty and other barriers
Wisconsin Watch December 17, 2021

Community colleges are touted as an affordable option that prepare students — but how real is the return?

Immigrant Community College Students Struggle to Find Support During COVID
Borderless Magazine December 16, 2021

City Colleges of Chicago immigrant students say they struggle to balance extra work hours and limited English proficiency with remote learning.

Hunger on campus isn’t a joke about ramen: How unmet needs keep Minnesota students from enrolling in community college.
Sahan Journal December 16, 2021

Tuition assistance leaves more than 40% of immigrant students struggling to afford balanced meals.

MATC broadens access for Milwaukee students amid historical inequities, dropping enrollment
Wisconsin Watch December 15, 2021

This community college offers free tuition, debt forgiveness and early credit to make college more accessible to a diverse student population.

How does a Detroit community college student get ahead?
Bridge Detroit December 15, 2021

Community college supporters say two-year programs are helpful to increasing economic well-being — but social systems can prolong…

This reporting is part of a collaboration with the Institute for Nonprofit News, Borderless Magazine, BridgeDetroit, Sahan Journal and Wisconsin Watch. Support from INN’s Amplify News Project, whose funders include the Joyce Foundation in the Great Lakes region, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation in Chicago, made this project possible.

This project was managed at INN by Amplify Collaborations Editor Sharon McGowan.

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