Awarding $2.6 Million in College Completion Grants
November 17, 2016 Issue
Awarding $2.6 Million in College Completion Grants
Funding Introspective Change to Improve Graduation Rates
Too many students are abandoning their education just a few semesters away from graduating, and all too often, these students are low-income, first-generation, and students of color. The personal and community impact of non-completion can be profound. These students have spent significant time and money on their education, but without the earning power a degree or credential provides, they often struggle with debt repayment. This issue is magnified in high-demand fields where positions remain unfilled, preventing employers from growing and our communities from prospering.
With a combined $2.6 million in College Completion Grants from Great Lakes, 14 two- and four-year colleges will take a comprehensive approach to help more of their at-risk near-completers graduate from programs in high-demand career fields such as nursing, information technology and business.
While each college developed specific interventions to address achievement gaps, there were several common themes:
- resolving course sequencing and scheduling conflicts,
- providing supplemental instruction in courses with historically low pass rates,
- developing personalized completion plans, and
- offering additional financial support.
"We respect the hard work these colleges put into the application process," said Amy Kerwin, Vice President — Community Investments. "Each analyzed their data to identify completion rate gaps between their underserved students and their general student population, took steps to understand the factors that contribute to the gaps, and proposed plans to remove institutional barriers they feel are getting in the way of student success. We're looking forward to working with these colleges over the next two years to learn the impact this approach has on narrowing completion rate gaps."
Great Lakes Funds Grant to Bolster Latino College Student Success
With support from Great Lakes and Lumina Foundation, Excelencia in Education will work with HSIs to Identify Barriers to College Completion Facing Latino Students
While college completion rates for students of color tend to be lower than those of white students, the issue is most acute for Latino students, who lag farthest behind. Only 22% of Latino adults have earned an associate's degree or higher, compared to 46% of white adults, reports the U.S. Census Bureau.
Great Lakes' philanthropic mission is to help close the higher education gap for students of color, so we, along with the Lumina Foundation, are supporting Excelencia in Education with a combined $1.5 million in grants as they work to improve the college graduation rates of Latino students.
Since its inception in 2004, Excelencia in Education has worked to identify, evaluate, and expand proven practices that increase Latino graduation rates. Excelencia in Education collaborates with Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and helps them implement best practices based on Excelencia in Education's research and experience. HSIs are colleges that have a student population that is at least 25% Latino. Approximately 80% of Latino undergraduates are attending HSIs or emerging HSIs.
"We are pleased to support Excelencia in Education and Latino student success as part of our mission to improve college completion rates for students of color," said Amy Kerwin, Vice President — Community Investments at Great Lakes. "This project will help us learn effective strategies to level the playing field and secure a better future for all Americans."
With this two-year grant, Excelencia in Education will:
- Work with eight HSIs in Florida and Texas from 2016 through 2018 to develop and implement plans to increase Latino student graduation rates.
- Improve and increase the reach of the organization's evidence-based best practices, promoting their implementation in more colleges nationwide.
- Encourage more data tracking of Latino students' persistence and completion rates so Excelencia in Education can continue to learn how to best help Latino students.
In 2018, Excelencia in Education will release two briefs and a final report discussing its research findings and their institutional and policy implications with the goal of improving the success of Latino students nationwide.
Congratulations to TORCH!
The Tackling Obstacles and Raising College Hopes (TORCH) program in Northfield, Minnesota, was recently named one of twenty 2016 National Finalists for Examples of Excelencia. This initiative from Excelencia in Education honors and promotes programs at the forefront of advancing educational achievement for Latino students in higher education.
A Great Lakes College Ready Grant recipient, TORCH serves more than 400 students each year and was selected from among 190 programs across 33 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The program's results over the last 10 years speak for themselves too: Northfield's four-year high school graduation rates for Latino students have increased from 27% to 83%.
Introducing Sue Cui
We're pleased to announce that Sue Cui has joined our team as a Senior Program Manager. Sue brings over five years of experience in the collaborative grantmaking field, most recently serving as the education Associate Program Officer at the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.
In her new role, Sue will identify new opportunities for Great Lakes to help more students get to and through college.
Sue graduated from New York University with bachelor's degrees in Anthropology and Art History. She also earned the Certificate in Grantmaking and Foundations from the Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
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