An Overlooked Part of Emergency Grant Programs
August 10, 2017
HOW TO DECIDE WHO GETS EMERGENCY GRANTS
Great Lakes and other funders have shared best practices on emergency grant programs with the field over the past five years. Our collective knowledge on processes and procedures has been helpful to colleges as they set up their programs, but we've overlooked a critical part—the "human element" in deciding who gets a grant and who doesn't.
Current training doesn't cover how to navigate beyond basic eligibility criteria. There are few guidelines for asking the right questions to get at the root cause of each student's financial emergency. And some staff members—who have little experience making decisions that directly affect students in financial crisis—need more holistic training to feel confident making awards.
That's why we're partnering with the nonprofit research firm Equal Measure to fund the development of better tools for emergency grant decision-makers. Supported by a $128,000 grant from Great Lakes, this project will:
- Explore the decision-making process through focus groups and interviews with current and past Great Lakes Dash Emergency Grant recipients.
- Develop training materials to help emergency grant administrators become more confident in the decision-making process.
We want to make sure students facing an unexpected financial crisis get the boost they need to stay on the path to graduation, and we look forward to sharing what we learn.
Identifying Early Indicators of Student Success
Preliminary research suggests that certain student behaviors can be early signals of success or struggle in college and beyond. For example, early enrollment and completion of required courses might indicate favorable prospects, while late registration and switching majors can foreshadow trouble ahead, particularly for first-generation students, students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.
Led by Dr. Paul Attewell at the City University of New York (CUNY), a consortium of researchers will develop a standardized set of early indicators of student success during a two-year project funded by Great Lakes and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A combined $955,000 in grants will bring together researchers from New York, Texas, Virginia and Illinois to analyze student data across multiple systems and connect it to state-level data about employment and income. Using available data from students' entry to college and their performance in the first semester, the researchers will develop models for predicting academic success and long-term earning potential across states and institutional types.
"Our project focuses on the roughly one third of undergraduates who enter college but don't complete a degree," Attewell said. "By creating measures that identify which students are most likely to drop out, we will provide colleges with a tool to intervene early on, to target academic support and other services to those students where those interventions will make the biggest difference in their chances of success."
RAND Corporation Releases Landscape Scan of Higher Education in Prison
In recent years there has been growing interest in expanding higher education in prison—particularly those programs designed to put more incarcerated students on the path to degrees and certificates that will help them secure sustainable jobs after release. To support further research in the field, we commissioned a landscape scan from trusted policy research organization the RAND Corporation. They've summarized the national and regional landscapes and provided recommendations for interested funders on where they may want to invest.
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Catch Up On Recent News
October 19, 2017
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Career Ready Internship Grant Closing Report
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Dash Emergency Grant Closing Report
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