New Orleans--This past semester, accounting students at Delgado Community College benefited from a unique partnership between one of its academic units and Single Stop, an anti-poverty initiative on campus. Every year, Single Stop offers free tax preparation to Delgado students, faculty/staff and the community as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site with the United Way of Southeast Louisiana.
In an effort to increase the number of tax preparers on-hand, students enrolled in the tax accounting class were invited to attend a free two-day training facilitated by the tax site director, Gail Jenkins. Upon completion, those who passed the IRS Preparers Certification Exam received Prior Learning Assessment credits (three credit hours) for the course at no cost.
Additionally, students who passed the exam were also eligible to earn credit for the required practicum by volunteering 120 hours on site during this tax season. This semester, 10 students completed the training and all of them passed the exam. Due to other obligations, not uncommon to community college students, only four could volunteer to gain the on-site experience that earned them an additional three credit hours at no expense.
Warren Puneky, dean of the Business and Technology Division stated, “We are thrilled to have collaborated with Single Stop to provide our students with the opportunity to learn and earn college credit while helping others. As a community college, we serve our students best when we combine career education and training with a strong sense of community. This venture has accomplished that and so much more.”
Anitra Taylor, one of the students who will earn the six credit hours at no cost, echoes Dean Puneky’s sentiment, “The training session proved to be very true to the customer’s experience. I hope to take what I learned in the training and my experience working with the community with me in my future job.”
Puneky credits Jenkins, a retired 30-year IRS employee, and Marilyn Ciolino, Delgado accounting professor, with this innovative win-win solution for students. Jenkins, who has served in her capacity since the inception of the Single Stop program at Delgado in 2012, was extremely pleased with the outcome of this inaugural initiative, stating, “This is an exciting partnership. I loved training the students and seeing their enthusiasm for this work. They all did an outstanding job and I hope they will return to work with us again next year."
Ciolino and Jenkins plan to continue this effort with next year’s accounting class.
Single Stop and Delgado Business Partners, pictured from left: Gwen Ricks, Gail Jenkins, Peyton Lang (student), Anitra Taylor (student), Marilyn Ciolino (accounting professor), Warren Puneky (dean, business and technology), Paulette Windon and Mildred Jones