by Joe Wyatt Published February 5, 2019 Amarillo College continued to garner national acclaim for its ambitious No Excuses Poverty Initiative by winning the prestigious Bellwether Legacy Award on Feb. 4 at the 25th Anniversary Community College Futures Assembly in San Antonio. The Legacy Award acknowledges outstanding Bellwether winning programs – AC won a Bellwether Award in 2017 – that have illustrated five or more years of successful implementation, and which other colleges might choose to replicate. AC’s poverty initiative is a systemic approach to connecting low-income, first-generation and/or academically underprepared students with social-services assistance structured to help them overcome poverty barriers. AC emerged from a field of 10 finalists to capture the Legacy Award. Since the inception of the No Excuses Poverty Initiative in 2012, AC has recorded steady gains in A-to-C pass rates and fall-to-fall retention, three-year graduation/transfer rates, percentage of students who attend full time, and more. As AC’s gains outpaced those recorded nationally, higher education took notice. After capturing the Bellwether Award in 2017, AC’s strategy for accommodating low-income students was detailed in the May 30, 2018 issue of The Atlantic. Subsequently, in response to a deluge of requests, AC hosted a No Excuses Poverty Summit. That was last June. Initially designed to accommodate 40 people, the summit drew 125 representatives from colleges and universities in 14 states. Later in 2018, AC received a $210,000 grant from the Trellis Foundation to conduct a self-study of its poverty initiative. Results of that study will be disseminated nationally. Now the College is in possession of the Bellwether Legacy Award, an accolade determined by a national panel of expert judges and sponsored by the Association of Community College Trustees. “This Legacy Award is especially gratifying because it demonstrates the staying power of our commitment to students, especially those most hard-pressed by the realities of poverty,” Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, president of Amarillo College, said. “We are so honored and proud,” he said. A delegation from AC, led by President Lowery-Hart and Regent Michele Fortunato, attended the Futures Assembly and accepted the award. PICTURED above: The delegation from Amarillo College on hand to accept the Bellwether Legacy Award are, from left, President Russell Lowery-Hart, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Cara Crowley, Regent Michele Fortunato, and Director of Social Services Jordan Herrera.