United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

United Way extends a financial life raft to employees who need it

by Allison Hatfield | February 24, 2020

Paul Quinn College students will have the opportunity to work for major employers in Plano under a new agreement announced Thursday.

The partnership — which includes the city government, Liberty Mutual, FedEx Office, J.C. Penney and JP Morgan Chase — is part of the historically black college’s Urban Work College model.

The program requires all students to work for a company, preferably in their designated field, while they work toward their degree. Once enrolled, students will work for the company for the full academic year.

Plano appealed to Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell because of his relationship with Mayor Harry LaRosiliere and the large number of corporate offices in the city. LaRosiliere said Plano is a great fit for the college’s goals.

“We are proactive, and we embrace the culture of cooperation,” LaRosiliere said. “We lean in where we see there’s a positive difference we can make, and we collaborate with experts to identify what that difference can be.”

About 50 students will be part of the Plano partnership, Sorrell said.

Students will live in Plano apartments while enrolled in the work college program. They’ll take classes in spaces provided by corporate partners rather than at the southeastern Dallas campus. They’ll also be able to take online classes.

Some professors will come from the college’s main campus, but the college plans to hire adjunct professors with expertise in Plano. Sorrell expects employees at the partner companies to show interest in teaching positions.

Sorrell said the model “is the new direction of higher education in the country.” Paul Quinn College has been experimenting with the Work College idea since 2013 and in 2017 officially became one of nine federally designated work colleges. To get the designation, all resident students are required to have a job.

When students graduate from a work college they leave with two transcripts: a standard academic transcript and and a work transcript, which includes evaluations from school leaders.

Each corporate partner also pays the college $8,500 per intern; $5,000 goes toward tuition and fees, $2,000 is used as the student’s stipend and $1,500 goes toward transportation and supplies.

Sorrell said the model is a way to “eradicate poverty” by giving students from all financial backgrounds access to quality jobs and secured housing while lessening their dependence on students loans.

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