JCTC Unveils Multicultural Center as part of Rise Together partnership with 15K

Months of work behind the scenes culminated Monday, October 23 with the opening of the Multicultural Center at Jefferson Community and Technical College.

Working with 15,000 Degrees, JCTC launched the space in the basement of Chestnut Hall. The space will be open to students, as well as the community, as a place where people “can be themselves,” according to Black Student Union co-president DeAndre Simpson.

“In order for us to succeed as a college, it’s important that Jefferson’s learning environment is comfortable and welcoming to all,” JCTC President Dr. Ty Handy said in a release from the school. “Opening a center to inspire and educate students as well as staff, faculty and the community has been a priority since I arrived more than a year ago. It reflects our mission to open doors to all who wish to be lifelong learners.”

The event began with a short program that featured remarks from Danielle Sims, Director of Diversity, Inclusion, & Community Engagement; BSU presidents Simpson and Hope Johnson; JCTC President Dr. Ty Handy; Professor of English & Humanities Division Chair Marlisa Austin; and Social Justice Advocates Leadership Council member Debbie Richards.

Following the program, JCTC cut the ribbon, opening the center for tours and refreshments.

The Multicultural Center is just one aspect of a larger partnership between JCTC and 15K. The two have joined forces for the 15K-JCTC Rise Together partnership to identify and matriculate students of color.

JCTC has long been home to a large population of African-American students. Through the Rise Together partnership, they aim to improve services to help African-American students succeed.

Leaders of 15K saw this opportunity to serve students of color, as well. Through many discussions, 15K agreed to work with JCTC to assist in the hiring of two positions: the Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement and an intern in the same office.

With assistance from grants 15K procured from the CE & S. Foundation, JCTC hired Sims for the Director position and Brittany Barnes for the position of intern.

The two hit the ground running, identifying 26 JCTC students from the Zones of Hope neighborhoods of California, Parkland, Shawnee, Russell, and Newburg for the partnership’s initial cohort. Sims and Barnes provide mentoring and coaching, access to a college persistence fund, and lead a first-year orientation class.

In the spring, those in the orientation class will move to a Black Student Leadership class, which Sims and Barnes will also lead. The two are also making plans for a spring break tour of regional HBCUs.

And in between all this work, Sims and Barnes will continue to reach out to other local institutions, agencies, and organizations to build more partnerships.

15,000 Degrees is always interested in working with organizations throughout the community that recognize the need for equity in education.

Through the Rise Together partnership, JCTC has proven to be a leader and an ally as we work to improve post-secondary outcomes for African-American students.

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