Summary

Launched
2016
Estimated duration
3 years
Estimated total value
$3,574,378
Regions
Northern America
Locations
United States
Partners
Michael & Susan Dell Foundation; Concordia University Texas; Houston Endowment Inc.; Sul Ross State University; Kresge Foundation; Meadows Foundation, Inc.; Lone Star College - North Harris; Greater Texas Foundation; College Forward

Developing Student-Ready Colleges

Approach

College Forward created Success Partnerships to transfer its decades-long experience motivating underserved students to achieve college success into the U.S. higher education system. In collaboration with two- and four-year colleges, College Forward implements effective, accountable, and sustainable near-peer mentoring programs that increase retention, persistence, and graduation. These wrap-around services embody the solutions that campuses need to improve outcomes for their most vulnerable students.

From 2016-2019 College Forward commits to scaling Success Partnerships from three to nine postsecondary institutions, seeking partners from regionally diverse communities, including rural, suburban, and urban institutions of higher education. College Forward will directly impact 7,420 students by the end of this commitment.

Partner colleges will be provided with near-peer mentors who deliver culturally relevant and individualized academic, financial, and socio-emotional guidance to designated students, as well as lead workshops and study groups, hold office hours, and teach freshman seminar classes that benefit the entire student body. College Forward will also implement a technology platform and cell phone application that tracks and analyzes student progress.

After establishing a successful near-peer mentoring program, partnering institutional staff will be trained to adopt and administer Success Partnerships independently. In addition to operational logistics, training focuses on fomenting a culture of student success that enables partnering institutions to respond effectively to the evolving needs of their student body.

Success Partnerships’ impact on student outcomes is immediate. Significant increases in student persistence can be detected within the first year, while the institution’s ability to support students through graduation is permanently affected. Through this commitment to scale Success Partnerships, College Forward will significantly accelerate the transition to a national higher education system that is fully equipped to serve every student, regardless of economic or family background.

College Forward is currently serving three colleges with Success Partnerships. This commitment is a significant scale up to nine college partners by 2019. Success Partnerships will expand to new colleges as follows:

June – August 2016
College Forward will collaborate with two new partner institutions (total of five colleges) to design and implement intensive near-peer mentoring programs for their students. Near-peer mentors will also support students over the summer to boost continued enrollment and progression from one level of education to the next.

September 2016 – May 2017:
Near-peer mentors will recruit students and then deliver personalized interventions throughout the fall and spring semesters. Outreach focuses on academic and career goal progress, financial aid applications, and increasing fall to spring semester persistence. Near-peer mentors will respond to student-initiated contact and reach out to students demonstrating “red flag” activities virtually and in person.

By the end of year one College Forward will develop training materials for institutional staff, and in subsequent years College Forward will train institutional staff to administer Success Partnerships programming.

June – August 2017
College Forward will collaborate with two new partner institutions (total of seven colleges) to design and implement intensive near-peer mentoring programs for their students. Near-peer mentors will also support students over the summer to boost continued enrollment and progression from one level of education to the next.

September 2017 – May 2018:
Near-peer mentors will recruit students and then deliver personalized interventions throughout the fall and spring semesters. Outreach focuses on academic and career goal progress, financial aid applications, and increasing fall to spring semester persistence. Near-peer mentors will respond to student-initiated contact and reach out to students demonstrating “red flag” activities virtually and in person.

June – August 2018
College Forward will collaborate with two new partner institutions (total of nine colleges) to design and implement intensive near-peer mentoring programs for their students. Near-peer mentors will also support students over the summer to boost continued enrollment and progression from one level of education to the next.

September 2018 – June 2019:
Near-peer mentors will recruit students and then deliver personalized interventions throughout the fall and spring semesters. Outreach focuses on academic and career goal progress, financial aid applications, and increasing fall to spring semester persistence. Near-peer mentors will respond to student-initiated contact and reach out to students demonstrating “red flag” activities virtually and in person.

Over the course of the third year, College Forward will develop a campus-by-campus exit strategy and provide individualized trainings to prepare campuses to deliver programming on their own. Following year three, program ownership will transition to partner institutions. College Forward will provide ongoing consulting and training as necessary.

Background

Today U.S. college campuses are more likely to be ethnically and economically diverse than at any other time in the history of higher education. This holds especially true in Texas. The state demographer predicts that the Hispanic population will compose the majority of Texas’ population by 2042. The Texas Education Agency reports that 58% of students currently enrolled in public schools are economically disadvantaged. A ‘bellwether’ state for the nation, Texas’s demographic shifts reflect those that will be faced by the rest of the states in the coming decades.

In 2014, the National Student Clearinghouse reported that 45% of all students who enroll in college don’t graduate, and the Pell Institute demonstrated that degrees are not conferred evenly across incomes: 77% of students from the highest income quartile obtain bachelor’s degrees, compared to only 9% from the bottom quartile.

Institutions of higher education are grappling with these massive challenges, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. The Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce predicts that two-thirds of all jobs will require postsecondary education by 2020. National student debt exceeds $1 trillion dollars and borrowers who drop out of college are four times more likely to default on their loans as completers. If the college graduation rate remains unchanged, mounting employment and debt will strike a staggering setback to the US economy.

The traditional answer to these concerns has been a challenge for students to “become more college ready.” However the students who do not succeed are overwhelmingly ethnic or economic minorities. Too often college readiness and success is not only a matter of academic ability, but also family background and income. Inside Higher Ed’s 2016 article “The Myth of the College-Ready Student” stated the challenge succinctly: “It is time that we fully embrace the burden of being student-ready institutions.”

Progress Update

August 2017

In 2016-2017, College Forward began partnerships with six post-secondary institutions: Lone Star – North Harris, Sul Ross State University, Concordia University, Texarkana College, Paris Junior College, and North Texas Community College. Partner colleges were provided with near-peer mentors who deliver culturally relevant and individualized academic, financial, and socio-emotional guidance to designated students, as well as lead workshops and study groups, hold office hours, and teach freshman seminar classes that benefit the entire student body.

These partnerships mark an important milestone in College Forward’s goal of expanding the network and engagement of post-secondary institutions. This milestone marks progress towards College Forward’s long-term ambition: to achieve permanent systemic change at the level of the individual institution by developing their capacity to deliver intensive coaching. Additionally, College Forward’s model has impacted 3,035 students, approximately 40% of the three-year target of 7,420 students.

In April 2017, College Forward program leadership began the process of researching, designing, and packaging up Success Partnerships program content. In accordance with the Year One commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, this development puts College Forward’s Success Partnerships well on its way to producing training materials to be used in subsequent years to train institutional staff in administering Success Partnerships programming.

Partnership Opportunities

College Forward seeks funding, connections to college presidents, and expertise around curriculum development, technology development, and marketing.

College Forward offers Success Partnerships to public and private two- and four-year colleges and universities that are committed to student success. College Forward will support partners in raising funds to cover program expenses.

NOTE: This Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action is made, implemented, and tracked by the partners listed. CGI is a program dedicated forging new partnerships, providing technical support, and elevating compelling models with potential to scale. CGI does not directly fund or implement these projects.