College Corps CT is a government-sponsored initiative hiring college and university students to staff summer enrichment programs for K-12 youth. Summer-school-style to camp-style programs across the State of Connecticut will be expanded with staffing support provided by undergraduates. These programs will expand capacity (host a greater number of K-12 youth) and/or content (add or embellish academic components within the program). The College Corps initiative also addresses two pandemic-resulting problems: a statewide shortage of teachers and learning loss in the k-12 demographic.

Governor Lamont has allocated $1.5 million of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to complement a $1.5 million investment of Coronavirus Relief Funds in FY 2022 in College Corps CT. The money will provide a stipend of $4,500 for 500 undergraduates to participate in the eight-week College Corps program. During the first week, College Corps members will participate in a training, constructed and conducted by Fairfield University, on how to support the well-being of K-12 youth. The College Corps members will spend the succeeding weeks staffing various summer enrichment programs throughout the state. The College Corps CT application launched on Friday, May 7 and will continue accepting applications until Friday, May 21.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a significant challenge to those concerned with maintaining the quality of K-12 education. Despite efforts to address this challenge, learning loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic became a real problem for the K-12 demographic in the state of Connecticut; both the academic progress and social-emotional development of K-12 youth have been impacted. In addition to the learning loss problem, the Connecticut State Department of Education identified teacher shortages that exist statewide in mathematics, science, and many other areas for 2021-22. The teacher shortage problem is exacerbated by the burn-out affecting K-12 teachers in the COVID-19-era. There’s a real need for supplemental programming to address the learning loss of K-12 youth; however, there’s a meaningful shortage of teachers available to staff such programs. As a solution to these problems, College Corps CT was devised and designed.

The College Corps concept has been collaborative. The Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern, under contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support long-term recovery from COVID-19 in the New England states, stood up sector-based working groups comprised of representatives from institutions of higher education in the State of CT. Representatives wanted to know how they might leverage their institutions’ resources to support long-term recovery and enhance the resilience of the State. The working group concerned with the K-12 sector, noting the teacher shortage problem, conceptualized leveraging the labor pool of undergraduates to staff summer enrichment programming that addresses the pandemic-resulting learning loss in the K-12 demographic.

The College Corps strategy, adopted by the AccelerateCT Education Task Force, will help K-12 youth get back on-track after a year of COVID-19-related disruptions. In addition, the College Corps program will provide a hands-on, competitively-compensated opportunity for undergraduates. Ultimately, College Corps CT is intended to promote long-term recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and enhance the resilience of the State of CT.