ACCT Member Companies Aid Colleges in Time of Crisis

April 7, 2020

Many outcomes are unpredictable at the onset of any major crisis. But at least one can be depended on: in an emergency, we find out who our real friends are.

No one alive has ever experienced anything quite like the COVID-19 pandemic. Forcing the U.S. and national economies across the globe to press the pause button, every kind of business was ordered to batten down its hatches and, when possible, morph from face-to-face to virtual operations literally overnight. No matter how versatile and nimble most community colleges are, this put a particular strain on our under-funded open-access institutions.

ACCT’s membership body of service providers, the Corporate Council, is full of true-blue community college friends who have come through in the time of greatest need. These companies have been solving the most difficult challenges for students and colleges for years, and many have opened up their services to the public during this time of greatest need. ACCT is proud to highlight some of the honorable work being done by our Corporate Council members.

CampusWorks is a transformation partner dedicated exclusively to higher education that works with community colleges throughout the country to adapt and evolve to meet students’ needs. In March and April, the company hosted online “learning shots”—actionable information for higher-education leaders in the face of COVID-19 disruption. These brief online lessons address how to manage remotely, how registrars can tap into stop-gap technologies to open registration and test-drive the future, keeping fiscal operations on track despite uncertainty and disruption, a COVID-19 cyber security update—protecting staff and students from emerging threats, and ‘preventing COVID-melt’—preserving college enrollment during and after the pandemic. Learn more at www.campusworksinc.com/news/detail/covid-19-support/.  

Cengage creates learning experiences that build confidence and momentum toward the future students want. The company designs tools that make learning accessible to all, and in doing so supports the open-access mission of all community colleges. For U.S. higher education institutions experiencing unplanned, mid-semester impacts due to COVID-19, Cengage in March began offering free access to all of its digital platforms and 14,000 ebooks through Cengage Unlimited throughout the remainder of the spring semester. Access resources at www.cengage.com/covid-19-support/.

CLARUS Corporation is a proven leader in higher education marketing that works exclusively with community colleges. In early April, CLARUS hosted a webinar in cooperation with NCMPR, the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations, about how community colleges can maintain enrollments during the COVID-19 event. The webinar was well attended and received excellent feedback. CLARUS Corporation President Kathi Swanson said "I think we hit a nerve." The webinar can be viewed via YouTube. CLARUS also offers a free online presentation, "Rethinking Digital Tactics for Summer & Fall Enrollment Campaigns: Responding to COVID-19," available via the CLARUS Corporation website.

EAB’s mission is to make education smarter and communities stronger. EAB has created free resources specifically to address the COVID-19 pandemic to support and retain students. Researchers and experts from EAB have published online over 40 short articles on how higher education is responding to COVID-19, with more added daily. The page also includes a database of policies set by schools, tips for moving staff and students to a virtual environment, and templates for effective communication. For more information, go to eab.com/research/strategy/resource-center/support-your-campus-through-the-coronavirus-crisis/.

Edamerica is a third-party servicer with expertise in student onboarding, customer service delivery and student loan repayment. The company can offer guidance to colleges regarding best practices in remote customer service configurations. Edamerica's website and school branded borrower education portals include debt management tools as well as CARES Act information on various borrower relief options available. The company also offers free student loan cohort risk analysis which give colleges early insight into cohort default rate trends, student indebtedness and repayment plan participation. Visit www.edamerica.net for more information.

Edquity helps students find the emergency resources they need to keep them on the path to graduation. As soon as the pandemic crisis began, Edquity launched StudentReliefFund.org, an online fundraiser to support students who were faced with sudden housing and food insecurity. The Student Relief Fund is a collaboration between Believe in Students, Edquity and the Rise Education Fund to support students affected by COVID-19-related campus shutdowns. For more information, go to https://edquity.co/COVID-19.pdf.

Ellucian is well-known to most higher education institutions as the maker of such ubiquitous software packages as Banner and a provider of services that facilitate and advance student and institutional success. In support of colleges and students affected by the COVID-19 crisis, Ellucian has created webinars about business continuity best practices, how to power remote campuses, and more. To access this information, visit www.ellucian.com/business-continuity-coronavirus.

Emsi began as an ACCT-supported initiative to research and communicate the returns of community college educations to local, state, and national economies. Now part of the Strada Education Network, Emsi has grown to a major international economic and workforce development organization. In March and April, the company began adding daily job-postings data to labor market analysis tools to identify, prioritize and support local businesses impacted by COVID-19 restrictions and closures. For more information, data tools, research and webinars to help with COVID-19 response are available at www.economicmodeling.com/covid-19-resources/.  

Ferrilli is a technology services provider that specializes in serving the needs of higher education as a strategic partner dedicated to compliance, security and customer service. Ferrilli is helping community colleges adjust to the new normal by offering two webinars. “Grading Scheme Transitions,” scheduled for April 9, will discuss how to transition the grading scheme of a section from alphanumeric to pass/fail, and “New Financial Aid Implications,” scheduled for April 23, will help college leaders decipher how the CARES Act may impact your institution’s financial aid process, things for institutions to consider and potential pitfalls to avoid. The company is also offering enhanced helpdesk, campus remote readiness, virtual desktop and other supports. For more information visit www.ferrilli.com

McGraw-Hill believes that learning changes everything. The company applies the science of learning to create innovative solutions to improve education outcomes around the world. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, McGraw-Hill is offering three services free of charge for spring 2020: access to digital materials, including McGraw-Hill Connect® and McGraw-Hill ALEKS® with Remote Proctoring and eBook, complimentary faculty training, course setup and online tutorials, and LMS integration to facilitate homework, quizzes and exams. To learn more, visit www.mheducation.com/ideas/announcements/mcgraw-hill-supporting-schools-and-learners-covid19.

Ocelot builds artificial-intelligence-powered tools and develops content for higher education institutions. The company’s automated chat bots and video platform enables staff and student communities to engage and thrive in an ever-changing, resource-constrained world. Ocelot’s services have been in demand since colleges have been forced to operate remotely. In March, Ocelot began providing all colleges with a free AI chatbot to communicate with and support students on COVID-19 related questions for as long as needed. This emergency response support tool is simple to implement, includes preloaded content, and the ability to customize and update immediately. For more information, go to covid19.ocelotbot.com.

Single Stop is a national nonprofit organization that works to leverage technology and partnerships to connect individuals to existing resources. In March, Single Stop announced that it has made its benefits screener along with COVID-19 resource toolkits available for free to anyone in states where Single Stop currently operates (Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia.) The benefits screener allows individuals to screen themselves for an array of public benefits, including food supports, tax credits and health insurance, and provides information about how to apply for or access those benefits in their area. While the screener is typically only available to partners who license the full technology suite, Single Stop decided to release the screener portion of the technology publicly as a public service during the COVID-19 event. The organization also will be offering webinars in the coming weeks on virtual case management, as well as on any emergency benefits released at the federal level. For more information, go to singlestop.org/covid19/.

Transamerica encourages customers to consider their long-term health in pursuit of their financial success. The company has issued advisories about monitoring the market during the COVID-19 pandemic and stock market performance through sickness and in health.