Churches and community groups in the Lafayette area have partnered with South Louisiana Community College to help recruit students in an effort to take on the challenge of breaking the cycle of poverty in the community.

The 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette, the Senior Pastors United Alliance and several church congregations have united with SLCC for the College to Church initiative that kicks off Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at Heymann Park Recreation Center, 1500 S. Orange St.

“In Lafayette Parish, nearly 60 percent of minority males 25 years and older have no college credential,” college officials said in a news release. “Earning a college credential or degree can break the cycle of poverty in many instances. Many hands-on training programs offered at SLCC, such as welding and nondestructive testing, are high-wage, high-demand industries right here in Acadiana.”

Community leaders, SLCC representatives and staff will be on hand to provide support and answer questions about financial aid, the admissions process, and career and transfer services.

“This game-changing program will provide an underserved population of citizens with an entry point to higher education, community and faith-based support to help them excel, and the necessary skills to attend and graduate from SLCC,” said SLCC Chancellor Natalie Harder in a news release.

That support from the community can make a major difference, especially for first-generation college students, the Rev. Ken Lazard, founding pastor and president of Destiny of Faith Christian Center Church, said in the news release.

“When a place of worship embraces college, so does the congregation,” Lazard said. “Members are more likely to feel safe and trusted while exploring the idea of going to college. Many will be the first in their families to attend college.”

The College to Church event is free and open to the public. Free refreshments will be served and SLCC representatives will be available with college information.

Editor’s note: This article was changed on Wednesday, Oct. 7, to update the location where the College to Church event will be held on Saturday.