BBCC Workforce Education Services wins Beacon Award for Excellence from Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
MOSES LAKE — Big Bend Community College’s Workforce Education Services (WES) was recently awarded the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities 2023 Beacon Award for Excellence in Student Achievement and Success. The annual award recognizes innovative approaches made by institutions that have significantly contributed to measurable improvements in completion and/or graduation rates.
The college was formally recognized at the NWCCU Annual Conference Awards Luncheon in November. In addition to the award, WES also received a $2,500 check to be used to support their ongoing work.
“The amazing and dedicated WES staff at Big Bend work diligently to put the needs of our students at the center of their day-to-day efforts,” said President Sara Thompson-Tweedy. “They help identify the barriers to success students are facing and they help them overcome those barriers and reach their full potential.”
At Big Bend, WES provides grants to historically underserved, low-income, and first-generation college students pursuing a workforce education credential through financial assistance, support services, and case management. WES grants help students pay for tuition, books, and program-specific tools, as well as provide access to basic needs such as food, housing, and transportation.
BBCC Director of Workforce Education Services Yolanda Ibarra said their work is student-centered, serving students in a holistic model.
“We understand that the success of a student relies on their well-being, securing basic needs, and having a support system,” she said.
Over the last few years, WES has expanded its capacity to meet students’ needs by adding additional staff, offering services in multiple languages (English, Spanish, and Ukrainian), and increasing funding sources. Since 2020 WES has doubled the amount of grants and contracts which has led to not only more funding overall for students, but more things WES can help students pay for.
WES currently oversees nearly $1.8 million in grants and contracts.
“The Beacon Award is a reaffirmation of the hard work and innovation BBCC and WES have implemented, the importance of putting the student at the center, and building services and resources around it to create a support system that meets the human and academic needs of the students,” said Ibarra. “WES has been working very hard to change how we approach students’ success, and we have seen the positive effect reflected in the increase in our student’s retention and completion.”
Ibarra shared that 76 percent of WES students have retained or completed a credential at Big Bend. When you look at non-WES students, that percentage is 65 percent.
She added that WES students also have a higher average GPA compared to non-WES students—2.86 and 2.73, respectively.
Visit the NWCCU website to learn more about the Beacon Award.
Current and prospective BBCC students can learn more about WES services and eligibility by visiting the WES website.