OTC's community resource specialists help students overcome challenges outside the classroom so they can succeed inside the classroom.
During the fall semester of 2022, community resource specialists at Ozarks Technical Community College helped 604 students with non-academic needs such as food insecurity, housing insecurity and affordable childcare. Community resource specialists are relatively new positions at OTC. Their job is to remove barriers that might prevent students from completing their educational goals.
“An expensive car repair or just a broken pair of glasses can derail a student’s path because they lack social capital — people they can ask for help,” said Steve Fouse, OTC college director of student success. “The community resource specialists are instant social capital because they can connect the students with people who want to help them with their challenges.”
In the fall, community resource specialists secured nearly $31,000 in monetary assistance for OTC students, including:
- $10,000 in food resources from Crosslines Mobile Pantry
- $17,234 in emergency assistance from the OTC Foundation
- $2,395 in Emergency Financial Aid from the college
Besides direct support, the community resource specialists introduced students to dozens of agencies outside of the college for help and relief. Organizations like Diaper Bank of the Ozarks, Harmony House, and The Drew Lewis Foundation are just a few of the entities that assisted students in helping them overcome a challenge that may have unsettled their success in the classroom.
“You may not think that having diapers for your child could help keep a student in college,” said Deana Davies, OTC community resource specialist. “But having basic needs like food, shelter, clothing, and a safe place for your children allows a student to concentrate on school and succeed in the classroom.”
The college hired its first community resource specialist (CRS) in 2020. OTC currently has two CRSs at the Springfield campus and a donor-funded CRS at the Table Rock campus in Hollister.