The Essence of a Community College

Why Not Erie?A community college has a Unique Mission: Meet the higher education needs of local communities and raise educational attainment for the Knowledge Economy. The community college achieves this in several ways.

Community colleges create pathways to Bachelor’s degrees with at least 2 years, and often 3 years, of four-year degree coursework at 1/3 the tuition rate. They also offer two-year, direct job entry programs of applied learning, as well as theoretical grounding, in fields that most communities need, like nursing, business, manufacturing, and social services.

With community college as an option, students with at least a high school diploma have an opportunity to pursue college-level learning with the support of developmental work to get them up to expected performance level. Community colleges control quality through learning outcome standards, instead of entry level admission requirements.

For residents who need or desire to engage in lifelong learning, they can depend on community college to give them continuing education. Community colleges apply the intellectual capacity of a college as a community service to help address the community’s most significant issues, challenges, and opportunities.

Who Are The Stakeholders?


  • 7.3 million college credit students; 5.0 million not for college credit learners.
  • Largest single sector of higher education in the United States.
  • 45% of all undergraduates in all of the public colleges and universities
  • More than 60% of all freshman and sophomores in public colleges, in most states.
  • Average age is 28 years old (under 22 37%; 22-39 49%; over 40 14%).
  • First time in college students - 36%; single parents - 17%; students with disabilities - 12%.
  • Diverse student population nationwide: white - 49%; Hispanic - 22%; black - 14%.
  • Transfer students at high-performing community colleges complete Bachelor’s degrees at rates similar to or higher than all students at the four-year institutions with similar grade point averages.
  • Direct job entry students receive high ratings from employers for preparation and readiness on satisfaction surveys.


  • 60% of the jobs that can be obtained with a Bachelor’s degree, also can be accessed with an Associate’s degree
  • 60-65% of all jobs in the Knowledge Economy of today require a degree, certificate or other post-secondary credentials
  • Over 80% of community college graduates stay locally and contribute to the local economy
  • Local employers help shape the curriculum, recruit students and engage them in work-based learning experiences, so they are as job ready as possible upon completion


  • Community colleges are resources to assist local communities in addressing their most critical needs, problems, opportunities, and aspirations.


Empower Erie QuoteHow Do They Work?

Community Colleges constantly assess local needs and mobilize their limited resources to address those most critical to the success of the community. Every community’s resources are limited and community colleges cannot meet all needs by themselves; therefore, they partner with others - secondary schools, other higher education institutions, business and industry, governments, the social service sector and philanthropic community - to address the community’s challenges, opportunities and aspirations as effectively as possible.

The Community College is governed locally and is accountable to use their resources wisely to be as responsive as possible in addressing local needs. It teaches and practices continuous quality improvement, is data driven and strategically focused. In the communities across America that are fortunate enough to have a Community College, they are credited with lifting up the communities they serve as a source of pride, inspiration, and performance that portends a brighter future.


It's official: Board approv...

Posted on July 8th, 2020 at 7:33 AM
The State Board of Education votes 10 to 5 in favor of approving a community college for the county. 

Erie community college gets...

Posted on July 8th, 2020 at 7:13 AM
Victory for Erie County residents as the state Board of Educaion approves a new community college in the area. 

State Board approves Erie C...

Posted on June 12th, 2020 at 7:20 AM
Pennslyvania will build a community college for the first in more than 25 years. 

Pa.Board of Education appro...

Posted on June 11th, 2020 at 2:33 PM
Board of Education Approves Erie County's Community College Plan. 

Erie Chamber and Growth Par...

Posted on June 4th, 2020 at 10:07 PM
Erie Chamber and Growth Partnership Report #1 Recommendation - Brick & Mortar Public Community College

Our view: Community college...

Posted on April 23rd, 2020 at 3:40 PM
Our view: Community college vote long overdue In a letter to the Board of Education chairwoman, Karen Farmer White, the CommunityCollege Committee rightly noted that the econom...

Erie County Community Colle...

Posted on April 16th, 2020 at 10:45 AM
Community College: Now more than ever A message from Ron DiNicola of Empower Erie A few short weeks ago – although it feels like a lifetime – we were prepari...

Community Colleges Come thr...

Posted on April 15th, 2020 at 10:56 AM
Community Colleges Come through in Time of Crisis With “stay-at-home” orders across the country, community colleges have responded rapidly to deliver on their core ...

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