Amarillo College accepts ‘No Excuses’ in pursuing its anti-poverty mission

Amarillo College President Russell Lowery-Hart has made it his mission – and that of his college – to help low-income students succeed. The key ingredient in his formula? Love. “When you love the students you have rather than the students you wish you had, and when you build your college around their needs, you can actually ensure that they complete what they’ve started,” he says.


From the very first, Georgia Gwinnett has put students first

The Gonzalez brothers, (from left) Arnoldo, Homero, and Esteban, all have benefited from the student-centered approach adopted by Georgia Gwinnett College near Atlanta. The brothers are all GGC graduates, despite the barriers they faced as young immigrants from Mexico. The college took an intensely personal approach to ensure their success – standard operating procedure at Georgia Gwinnett.


Morgan State nourishes students every way it can

These days, Morgan State University junior Deja Jones is focusing on her course work, but that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, money was so tight during her sophomore year that Jones was “literally fainting” because she couldn’t afford regular meals. That’s when Morgan State’s wraparound support system kicked in.


Statewide Systems are also going "Beyond Financial Aid"

While many institutions have launched holistic efforts to help low-income students, two statewide systems—in Georgia and Tennessee—operate similar programs on a much larger scale.


Colleges’ student-focused cultures start at the top—in the president’s office

They come from starkly different backgrounds—one a military officer, the other a career academic—but two innovative college presidents have reached the same conclusion: Attacking poverty is the right strategy to help students succeed.


If you’re like most Americans, when you hear the term “college student,” a picture comes to mind: A young person—late teens or early 20s—walking across a leaf-strewn quad with a backpack slung across one shoulder. It’s an evocative image—iconic, even. It’s also wrong.

Doug Richardson

The stories in this issue of Focus were reported and written by Doug Richardson, a journalist and communications professional with decades of experience. He was the Indiana Statehouse bureau chief for The Associated Press in the late 1980s and early ’90s and later served as director of communications for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He also led policy and communications efforts for the Democratic Governors Association and has worked for several public affairs, law and lobbying firms. He now owns DirectionPR, a public relations and communications firm in Washington, D.C.

Editing | David S. Powell
Editorial assistance | Ruth Holladay
Photography | Shawn Spence Photography
Design & development | IronGate Creative
Multimedia production | Matthew Jenkins
Video production | Angela Cain and Mike Jensen

Focus Archive


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Adult students
Black male student success
Community partnerships
Competency-based education
Comprehensive student records
Economical instruction
Employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement
Learning assessment
Non-degree credentials
Prison education
Rural students
Struggles of Today's Student
Student supports
Students with Development Disabilities
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