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Creating Opportunity for All: Building Pathways from Continuing Education to Credit Programs

February 9, 2018

In 2013, Achieving the Dream convened seven network colleges to form the Northeast Resiliency Consortium (NRC). Created in the wake of natural and manmade disasters, the consortium sought to develop a resilient workforce. Led by Passaic County Community College, and including Atlantic Cape Community College, Bunker Hill Community College, Capital Community College, Housatonic Community College, Kingsborough Community College, and LaGuardia Community College, the consortium was awarded $23.5 million from the US Department of Labor's Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) program. Achieving the Dream served as the consortium's convening partner and as an intermediary to support peer learning among colleges, provide technical assistance, host in-person consortium convenings, and promote promising strategies implemented by the consortium. One important challenge the NRC colleges took on was aligning continuing education and credit programs along a career pathway to meet student and labor market needs. This brief describes how the colleges made adjustments to articulate non-credit to credit credentials to ensure strong career pathways for students who start on the non-credit ramp.As a result, the colleges are now providing students with stacked credentials, ensuring prior learning and experience is accounted for within pathways, and are formally recognizing key milestones with credentials. All in all, the colleges smoothed the way for students to work toward an associate degree even if they began their studies in a non-credit program.

Advancing Careers and Training (ACT) for Healthcare Through Student Support Services

September 12, 2017

A key strategy pursued by ACT for Healthcare colleges – and the focus of this Issue Brief – is the delivery of various support services to improve healthcare students' success in completing industry-recognized credentials in Nursing, Medical Assistant, Gerontology, and other high-demand fields.Strategies include academic supports such as enhanced classroom instruction, tutoring, and test preparation, as well as non-academic supports like personal counseling and case management, job search and placement, and study skills and time management.The information we present in this Brief is based on qualitative and quantitative data collected on student support services, as part of the third-party evaluation of the ACT for Healthcare initiative. As part of these data collection efforts, we conducted site visits in 2016 to 15 colleges, facilitating in-person interviews and focus groups with key ACT for Healthcare support services staff, project leaders, faculty, and administrators.Support services development and delivery was a key strategy explored in these site visits. In addition, colleges collected and submitted student-level data on out-of-class support services provided in targeted healthcare programs. 

Supporting Resilience: Building Resilient Communities through Enhanced Student Supports

October 31, 2016

This report details our evaluation of the Northeast Resiliency Consortium, composed of seven community colleges in the Northeast region, as they built together toward a stronger future after man-made and natural disasters.In 2012, seven community colleges in the Northeast region of the United States came together to discuss the acute need for resilience in their communities in the wake of several natural and man-made disasters, including the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and two hurricanes. These seven colleges formed the Northeast Resiliency Consortium (NRC), led by Passaic County Community College, to develop and implement programming and services that would help build resilience in students and communities, and generate a highly skilled workforce.As a recipient of a Round Three U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant, the NRC prioritized efforts around credential completion and employment, and focused on building a resilient workforce in sectors that are critical to the healthy functioning of communities: healthcare, information technology, and environmental/utility.The report is structured as follows:Section I provides a summary of recent research in the area of support services and student success in community colleges.Section II provides a description of the ways in which NRC colleges deliver resiliency support services to participants.Section III identifies best practices in NRC colleges' approaches to resiliency support

Case-Informed Lessons for Scaling Innovation at Community and Technical Colleges

June 29, 2015

This evaluation report of Achieving the Dream's Catalyst Fund builds on the emergent research on scale,and its reconceptualization from replication to transformation.In Section One of this report, we provide a brief overview on the importance of scale in the context of a national movement to increase college completion, including a review of the most salient literature on sustainability and scale that informed our evaluation.In Section Two, we describe the Catalyst Fund initiative to support four community colleges to scale an innovative practice to serve most of their students, followed by an overview of our evaluation approach.In Sections Three and Four, we discuss our evaluation findings, and offer illustrative examples of the key factors that appear necessary to achieve scale. Finally, we conclude the report with recommendations for colleges and other stakeholders that wish to scale innovation –and transform their organizational culture –in service of student success and the college completion agenda.

Public Benefits and Community Colleges: Lessons from the Benefits Access for College Completion Evaluation Report-in-Brief

November 19, 2014

The Benefits Access for College Completion demonstration (BACC) represented a collaborative multi-year investment from several philanthropic organizations to demonstrate how student supports from public human services programs could help address the college completion agenda. The idea fueling BACC was that existing financial aid programs are insufficient, and that high levels of unmet need lead to excessive work, poor grades, and dropping out of college. The underlying assumption for BACC was that, if students received additional financial and nonacademic supports through public benefits programs in addition to financial aid, their personal lives would become more stable, and they would make more progress toward their postsecondary educational goals.BACC supported seven community colleges in six states over 2.5 years to develop and implement benefits access services on their campuses, with the goals of increasing the numbers of eligible students who received public benefits, and, thus, subsequently improving academic progress toward a postsecondary credential. Our evaluation focused on five of these colleges – representing different college sizes and percentages of students that might be eligible for benefits, as well as operating in the context of five different state public benefits systems.