Giving Compass' Take:

• Sean Gallagher, at EdSurge, explains how community colleges are becoming more prominent and need better digital preparation for COVID-19.

• How can we work to make digital preparation for COVID-19 affordable and equitable in community colleges? What can you do to support these advancements to increase access to schooling for those impacted by coronavirus?

Find funds to support community colleges during COVID-19.

Local and highly affordable, community colleges are engines of economic opportunity. Community colleges are often the institutions of choice for part-time students, and over the last two decades these institutions have enrolled a much more diverse student population, placing community colleges at the center of economic opportunity and racial equity.

Unfortunately, however, there is danger on the horizon when it comes to community colleges’ financial footing and overall capacity. As the COVID-19 recession decimates state and local government budgets, funding for community colleges is poised to suffer. If we want to make sure community colleges can meet the rising demand, we need to not only devise new policies and funding mechanisms, but we also need to re-envision the strategies and infrastructure of community colleges so that they can play a powerful role in the economic recovery.

With a storied history of serving working adults and offering flexible educational programs, one might assume that community colleges are more focused on online models than their four-year peers. Yet community colleges are in a number of ways behind in the embrace of online delivery.

While community colleges are leaders in offering individual online classes, only 14 percent of all community college students are enrolled in exclusively online programs, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

More than ever before, community colleges will face intense competition from all sorts of educational providers. But to better meet the demand for digital pathways to four-year degrees, non-degree offerings and work-related learning, they must position themselves for the digital future. The evolution in strategy and resourcing that this will require is an exciting opportunity for impact for entrepreneurs, policy leaders, institutional partners and others interested in this crucial sector of higher education.

Read the full article about community colleges' preparation for COVID-1D by Sean Gallagher at EdSurge.