Joe Wyatt
Published December 12, 2016

Amarillo College’s commitment to addressing poverty has been recognized by the Community College Futures Assembly, which has named AC a finalist for a prestigious Bellwether Award.

The Bellwether Awards, established in 1995 by the Community College Futures Assembly, recognize outstanding and innovative programs and practices that will serve to springboard community colleges into the future.

There are three categories for the award: instructional programs and services; planning, governance and finance; and workforce development. This year the Community College Futures Assembly received over 3,000 applicants. AC has been selected as one of the 10 finalists in the category of “planning, governance and finance,” placing AC among the top 1 percent of community colleges in the country.

“Amarillo College has positioned itself as a leader in breaking down the barriers between poverty and education,” Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, president of Amarillo College, said. “Being recognized as a finalist for this award is not only an honor, but truly showcases the power behind the work we are doing here at Amarillo College to increase educational access and strengthen the Amarillo community.”

A committee, spearheaded by Jordan Herrera, AC’s director of social services, presented the Bellwether committee with a narrative showcasing the work of AC’s No Excuses Poverty Initiative.

“This recognition is exciting because it means that our systemic approach to helping students overcome poverty-related barriers is making a difference,” Herrera said. “I am thrilled that our programs are being honored at this national level, where our model could become the blueprint for other colleges to adopt.”

A delegation from AC, led by Board of Regent’s Chair Michele Fortunato, will attend the 2017 National Policy Summit and Futures Assembly to showcase AC programs before a team of judges. Winners will be announced at an awards luncheon on Jan. 31.

“The Amarillo College family is committed to strengthening the Amarillo community,” Lowery-Hart said. “Winning the Bellwether award would be an important honor as it would showcase to a national audience that Amarillo College is leading the way in making higher education more accessible and attainable for everyone.”