SIG Focus: Community Based Organizations

Co-Leaders of the Community Based Organizations Special Interest Group:
Pennie Douglas, William H. Douglas Foundation (CA)
Jonathan April, College Greenlight (VA)

NACAC Special Interest Groups (SIGs) nurture the growing diversity in our association by providing “micro” communities where members can network and add value to their membership experience. These smaller subsets of members are formed for the purpose of knowledge sharing and discussion among members with similar interests whether they are specific subjects, issues or type of institution, or students they serve.

Community Based Organizations (CBOs) focusing on college access and retention generally work with underserved populations and undocumented students. Often these populations lack the resources, knowledge, and guidance to navigate the application and financial aid process without the additional support of CBOs. By and large, these students are not extensively courted by elite postsecondary institutions, or, seemingly, are affordable for many private and some public institutions. One of the challenges facing every CBO is finding resources to support these students in finding a good fit.

Another issue CBOs face is finding ways to share comprehensive resources. We need to foster conversations on the NACAC Community Based Organizations SIG Exchange Group and build a library to share best practices and printable resources.

At the SIG’s meeting in Columbus, we brainstormed strategies to connect CBO’s and institutions–by building a database of CBO SIG members so college reps know about our individual work and so that both sides of the desk can connect. There are a few databases of CBOs in existence currently, but what we would like to develop one that is one specifically for CBOs affiliated with the NACAC CBO SIG.

Training is important for us. Just as many high school counselors are not trained in admission in their graduate programs, there are CBO counselors who need better training as well. However, many CBO organizations do not have the funds to send counselors to the NACAC conference or to the state or regional affiliate annual conferences, so some form of outreach training is necessary given the large numbers of students with whom we work.

One of the ways to accomplish this, and to encourage more CBOs to become affiliated with NACAC, and to grow our presence in the state and regional affiliates: we are advocating for the establishment of a CBO liaison within each state and regional affiliate board. We encourage this item to be discussed in the next Affiliate Presidents Council meeting.

To network and connect with other CBO colleagues, join the NACAC CBO SIG Exchange Group today!