Bucks County Community College Partners with Bucks County Opportunity Council

  (Newtown, PA) – Bucks County Community College (Bucks) and the Bucks County Opportunity Council (BCOC) are evolving their partnership to kickstart a new ‘Coaches on Campus’ initiative. This collaboration will allow BCOC to integrate with Bucks’ Student Services division. BCOC’s Economic Self-Sufficiency (ES) coaches will be on the Newtown campus twice a week to offer coaching, financial support and resources to students who are already making strides to better their education and future stories.   “The key to gaining self-sufficiency is acquiring the additional education and training necessary to earn a living wage,” Erin Lukoss, BCOC’s Executive Director. “This partnership will allow BCOC staff to directly assist students by meeting them where they are. It is important for students to know that they have support from their school and their community.”   Part of the Bucks vision is to provide innovative paths that inspire educational, career, and personal fulfillment and BCOC is a key to helping our students realize their dreams and goals.   “At Bucks, we understand that some of our students face significant economic hardships that impact their ability to be successful as they pursue their degrees and academic goals,” Dekia Smith, Ed.D., LPC, Bucks’ Interim Dean of Students. “Having BCOC’s ES Coaches on campus, allows for our Student Services staff to make direct referrals right across the hall which greatly reduces barriers that would otherwise get in the way of Bucks students accessing community-based services.”   Previously, Bucks and BCOC have partnered together to raise funds for the Gateway to Self-Sufficiency Scholarship, open to Bucks students who have joined BCOC’s ES Program. More than 40 students have been awarded this scholarship with a 93% program completion/success rate.   The information above provides both organizations with the knowledge of what works to help those in need succeed, but separately the organizations are limited in their resources to help all who need the support. Therefore, the new Coaches on Campus initiative will bridge the gap in services being offered.    From left to right, Dr. Dekia Smith, Interim Dean of Students, Mary Finch, Senior Self-Sufficiency Coach, April Ettinger, Economic Self-Sufficiency Supervisor, Erin Lukoss, Executive Director/CEO, Christina McGinley, Executive Director of Bucks County Community College Foundation & Alumni Relationa & Lisa Angelo - Provost As the lead anti-poverty, 501(c)(3) non-profit agency in Bucks County, the mission of BCOC is to reduce poverty, and partner with our community to promote economic self-sufficiency. For over 55 years, the Opportunity Council has served low-income families in Bucks County by helping them to stabilize when in crisis, garner resources to achieve a livable wage, gain additional education and training, and work towards economic self-sufficiency.   Bucks County Community College was founded in 1964 in response to a need for a public two-year collegiate institution to serve the County and its residents. Bucks County Community College provides a diverse community of learners with exemplary, accessible educational opportunities and the personal connections that foster success. To learn more about supporting the Coaches on Campus initiative or the Gateway to Self-Sufficiency Scholarship, please contact

Pennsylvania’s First Lady Visits BCCC to Discuss College Hunger

 Monday's visit included a tour of the Newtown campus food pantry and meetings with students and the college president. In Newtown, Bucks County Community College welcomed Pennsylvania First Lady Frances Wolf on Monday, June 27, to the Newtown Campus for a tour and a discussion with students and staff about college hunger. Mrs. Wolf addressed the growing need for resources for students experiencing food and basic needs insecurity. She discussed Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed $1 million investment to address college hunger, and $200 million investment to create the Nellie Bly Scholarship Program in the 2022-23 state budget.   “Too many college students are overworked and underserved as they pursue futures that can benefit all of Pennsylvania,” said the first lady. “With proposals like the Hunger-Free Campus initiative and Nellie Bly, we have an opportunity to alleviate the burden of hunger for the students who need it most and help them pay for the stifling costs of higher education.”   For example, student Jocelyn Walters told the first lady that she had faced food insecurity most of her life, but the support from Bucks County Community College have helped her focus on her classes and taking care of her newborn son. “A lot of the food pantries have expired food and no fresh produce,” said the Quakertown resident who is majoring in social work. “But I know that when I reach out to Bucks, they can help me with a grocery store gift card, which is a huge help for me as a new mom. Now I want to devote my life to helping people, because of the way the people at this college have helped me. An estimated 36% of students know someone who dropped out of college due to food insecurity during the pandemic. Roughly 52% of students who faced food or housing insecurity in 2020 did not apply for support because they did not know how.  “Part of Bucks County Community College’s mission is to provide innovative pathways that inspire educational, professional, and personal fulfillment,” said Dekia Smith, the college’s interim Dean of Students. “We recognize that whether it’s food insecurity, homelessness, or the need for emergency funds, many of our students do not have what they need to meet their higher education goals. The Governor’s proposal to ‘Swipe Out Hunger’ would support our work to ensure an accessible, equitable, and supportive experience for our students. We are excited to be a part of this groundbreaking and transformative initiative.” First Lady Wolf toured the Bucks campus, learning about how the college is addressing the basic needs of its students with programs like Keystone Education Yields Success. Funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services at the state’s community colleges, KEYS helps students who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) in their pursuit of post-secondary education by:  Providing career counseling, tutoring and academic support, and help with financial aid;  Facilitating support services such as child care, textbooks, and transportation assistance, available through the County Assistance Office or the College; and Connecting students to other community service agencies.    In addition, Bucks County Community College developed a gift-card program that enables students to make their own food choices, has a fully stocked food pantry, and “standing pantries,” which are shelves conveniently placed across campus that offer snacks and toiletries. Following the tour, Mrs. Wolf joined students and staff for a discussion on college hunger. She shared the governor’s budget proposals to confront the substantial costs of college and food insecurity among college students, encouraging the college community to contact their elected officials and urge them to act on the behalf of Pennsylvania’s students. In his 2022-23 budget, Governor Wolf has proposed $1 million to create the Hunger-Free Campus grant program. This program would help colleges and universities set up or expand food pantries, increase SNAP outreach and education, improve data gathering, and support other projects that could meet the needs of hungry students on campus. Colleges and universities are also encouraged to become a COMPASS Community Partner, which facilitates connecting students to a range of support and assistance. Additionally, Governor Wolf has proposed $200 million for the Nellie Bly Scholarship Program, a needs-based scholarship to support equitable access and enrollment in Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education schools and Pennsylvania’s community colleges. The scholarship would support tuition and fill in gaps for the true costs of attendance. It also addresses critical workforce needs by prioritizing students pursuing programs in healthcare, education, and public service. Students who take advantage of the program must stay in Pennsylvania to live and work for the same amount of time they receive the scholarship benefit. Photos from the First Lady’s visit can be found at  Media Contact: Madeline Williams,   
abstract illustration of book in front of mountains

College Launches 46th Bucks County Poet Laureate Competition

The search is on for the 46th annual Bucks County Poet Laureate, according to Bucks County Community College Professor Ethel Rackin, Ph.D., director of what is the longest-running poet laureate program in Pennsylvania. The contest is open to Bucks County residents over age 18 who have not previously served as poet laureate, said Rackin, who teaches language and literature at BCCC, where the program is based. Each entrant must submit 10 original poems of any style or length along with an entry form to the college’s Language and Literature Department. Entries must be submitted online by Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. The winner receives a $500 honorarium, a proclamation from the Bucks County Commissioners, and will be featured at a Fall reading and reception at Bucks County Community College with the previous year’s poet laureate, Nicole Steinberg, and contest runners-up. Poetry of any kind is welcome. The entry requires 10 poems, any style, form, or length. All work must be original, published or unpublished, typewritten or word-processed, one poem per page, in black ink. The poems and entry form must be submitted online at There is no charge to enter the contest, but there is a limit of one entry per person. Two judges will blindly select the winner. The preliminary judge will narrow the entries down to a few dozen for the final judge, who will choose the winner and three runners-up from the pool of finalists. Tsering Wangmo Dhompa The 2022 final judge will be Tsering Wangmo Dhompa. Dhompa’a parents fled Tibet in 1959. Raised by her mother in Tibetan communities in Dharamsala, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal, Dhompa earned a BA and an MA from Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi, an MA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and an MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks In Writing the Names (2000) and Recurring Gestures (2000). She has published the full-length collections Rules of the House (2002), In the Absent Everyday (2005), and My Rice tastes like the lake (2011), which was a finalist for the Northern California Independent Bookseller’s Book of the Year Award for 2012. She is also the author of the poetry chapbook Revolute (2021). Dhompa's non-fiction book based on her life is called A Home in Tibet (Penguin India, 2013), published in the United States as Coming Home to Tibet: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Belonging (2016). Shawn R. Jones Preliminary judge will be Shawn R. Jones. Jones was born in Hartford, Connecticut and grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Womb Rain and A Hole to Breathe. Her work has appeared in Tri-Quarterly, New Ohio Review, River Heron Review, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and her poetry collection, Date of Birth, has won the 2022 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry and is forthcoming from Persea Books in 2023. The Bucks Poet Laureate Program is one of the oldest in the country. It also holds a High School Poet Contest every Spring and sponsors an annual writers’ conference, and is yet another way that Bucks County Community College contributes to the cultural heritage of the region. For more information, contact Rackin at

Summer Bridge Program At Bucks

 Bucks County Community College is once again offering its Summer Bridge program, which is designed to support the transition to college by providing students with the academic skills and social resources needed to succeed in a college environment. The program runs from July 6 to August 12, and includes courses in composition, mathematics, guided studies, reading and college success. Students can mix and match courses ranging from 1 to 4 credits. All in-person courses will be held at the Newtown Campus. An orientation with Bridge Staff & Faculty will be held on June 27.   The college is offering scholarship funds for rising seniors and new, current and returning students. The Program enables students to get a head-start on their academic coursework in a program that will involve: In-depth orientation to college life and resources Academic advising Training in skills necessary for college success (e.g., time management & study skills) Enrollment in courses specific to students' needs. Open Lab time Computer skills Workshops – 1 time/week Academic Success Center Workshop Offerings Lunch & Visitors Tutoring Peer Mentoring Assistance Social & Wellness activities Fall Follow-up Meetings and Workshops Applications for the program are currently being accepted.  Students must the take the Placement Tests for reading and writing (if pre-requisites not met). Taking the math placement test is highly recommended (if pre-requisites not met). After testing, students should email to schedule an advising appointment to plan their course schedule. The week before classes begin, there will be a week of orientation events and activities, both in-person and virtually. The in-person orientation will be held on June 27th from 10am to 2pm on the Newtown Campus. More specific details, including the room location, will be posted soon. This event will provide an opportunity for students to meet their peers, faculty members, and support services on campus so that they are best prepared to begin their college careers the following week. Throughout the program, workshops will be offered to help students gain a deeper understanding of and some practical experience with the skills needed to be successful as a college student. Students will be expected to participate in 30-minute workshops over the course of the 7-week program. In-person workshops will be offered during the programming on Mondays and Wednesdays between 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm. Scholarship Opportunities Summer Bridge Program scholarship applications are currently being accepted for new, current, and returning students. The deadline is June 6th for non-high school students. For more information go to: Rising high school seniors (current juniors) are eligible to receive free tuition for one to four credits. The deadline to apply is June 10th. Please e-mail any questions to For more information, go to: []

Learn About ‘Inclusion of the Facially Different’ for Disability Awareness Month

Bucks County Community College invites the public to “From Trauma to Community: Inclusion of the Facially Different” with Dr. Lise Deguire at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, April 14, 2022. A clinical psychologist, Deguire is the award-winning author of Flashback Girl: Lessons of Resilience from a Burn Survivor. After being severely burned in a fire, she spent most of her childhood in the hospital, undergoing countless surgical procedures. Deguire graduated from Tufts University, earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Widener University, and is in solo practice in New Jersey. She has appeared on NPR, NBC, ABC, FOX, SiriusXM, and numerous podcasts. She is a blogger for Psychology Today, and has been featured in Thrive Global, Tiny Buddha, and The Elephant Journal. Learn more at Dequire will present her inspiring talk in the Gallagher Room, located in the Rollins Center on the campus at 275 Swamp Rd., Newtown, Pa. The event will also be streamed live online. To register for the online presentation, visit “From Trauma to Community: Inclusion of the Facially Different” is presented by the Office of Government & Community Relations, in partnership with the Disability Pride Club, to mark Disability Awareness Month. It’s among several educational forums to encourage engagement and dialog on issues surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion. To learn more, visit 

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