RALEIGH – Jobs for the Future (JFF) is pleased to announce the launch of five new Student Success Centers, supported by a $2.5 million investment from The Kresge Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The investment will help more low-income students, students of color, and first-generation students earn college credentials by expanding a thriving national network of Student Success Centers that JFF directs. These Centers provide the vision, support, and a shared venue for a state’s community colleges as they work in partnership on a collective student success agenda.
North Carolina Community College System will receive $250,000 a year for each of the next two years. Community college organizations in Hawaii, New York, Virginia and Washington will receive the same amount. This new work builds on investments The Kresge Foundation made in recent years to create centers in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas.
“These centers build a cohesive approach to engagement, learning, and policy advocacy across each state’s two-year institutions,” says Caroline Altman Smith, Deputy Director of Kresge’s Education Program. “The colleges can then spend their resources more effectively and create reforms that help the most students possible graduate.”
Student Success Centers organize a state’s community colleges around common action to accelerate their efforts to improve student outcomes. They provide faculty and staff with venues for sharing and learning, aggregate technical assistance efforts, and help colleges collaborate. Student Success Centers pointedly seek to bridge the gap between policymakers and practitioners as they implement reforms that will help the most students possible earn postsecondary credentials.
“When NC Community Colleges were created 53 years ago, accessibility was key to increasing educational opportunities for our citizens, but accessibility needs to be married with strategies that increase student success in high-quality educational and workforce training programs,” said George Fouts, Interim System President. “North Carolina’s Student Success Center will provide state-level infrastructure specifically focused on shared learning, technical assistance and idea generation that will support sustained change and advance student success at our colleges.”
The Centers selected for these grants “each demonstrated a clear vision of a statewide policy agenda to increase community college persistence and completion, as well as the capacity for meaningful data analysis and strong commitment from a broad group of stakeholders,” says Chris Baldwin, Jobs for the Future’s Senior Director.
The host organizations for the Student Success Centers all aim to strengthen the student success work their colleges and supporting associations and agencies have been doing for many years.
In 2009 the NC State Board of Community Colleges adopted a strategic focus on improving student success and completion across the system, without sacrificing rigor or accessibility. This state-level policy framework, known as SuccessNC, continues to guide the System’s focus on bringing more college-ready students into and through completion of high-quality educational and workforce training programs. However the implementation of these initiatives remain at varying stages among our 58 community colleges.
The North Carolina Student Success Center will connect all colleges with resources, opportunities, professional development and training focused specifically and consistently on student persistence and completion in support of SuccessNC initiatives. Additionally, the Center will support the continued efforts to foster partnerships across the educational and workforce development spectrum, promoting the successful implementation of the goals, objectives and strategic actions included in Align4NCWorks, the State Board’s current strategic plan.
JFF will spearhead the launch of the five new Centers, and continue to lead the expanded 12-state network to develop cross-state collaboration, provide strategic guidance, strengthen state-level capacity for data-informed decision making, and document Success Center models as they develop—capitalizing on a decade of JFF’s experience supporting state and local efforts to dramatically boost community college completion rates.
For more information about the Student Success Centers and the national network, please go to the following link on the JFF website: http://www.jff.org/initiatives/postsecondary-state-policy/student-success-center-network.
About The North Carolina Community College System
With 58 community colleges serving more than 750,000 students annually, the North Carolina Community College System is one of the largest and most accessible systems of higher education in the country with campuses located within 30 miles of 99 percent of North Carolinians. This comprehensive system opens the door to high-quality, affordable educational opportunities by providing education, training and retraining for the North Carolina’s workforce including occupational, technical and pre-baccalaureate programs as well as basic skills and literacy education.
About Jobs for the Future
Jobs for the Future is a national nonprofit that works to ensure educational and economic opportunity for all. We develop innovative career pathways, educational resources, and public policies that increase college readiness and career success, and build a more highly skilled workforce. With over 30 years of experience, JFF is the national leader in bridging education and work to increase mobility and strengthen our economy.
About The Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America's cities through grant making and investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, community development in Detroit. In 2014, the Board of Trustees approved 408 awards totaling $242.5 million. That included a $100 million award to the Foundation for Detroit’s Future, a fund created to soften the impact of the city’s bankruptcy on pensioners and safeguard cultural assets at the Detroit Institute of Arts. A total of $138.1 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year. In addition, our Social Investment Practice made commitments totaling $20.4 million in 2014.” “The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities
Twitter: @kresgefdn and @kresgedu
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