Press Release: Expanding Student Success Centers with New $1.5 Million Grant

Published mar. 07, 2014

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Boston, MA  (March 10, 2014) – The Kresge Foundation has awarded $1.5 million in grants to help more low-income students, students of color, and first-generation students complete college and earn credentials by expanding a thriving network of Student Success Centers, supported by Jobs for the Future (JFF). Student Success Centers organize a state’s community colleges around common action to accelerate efforts to improve student persistence and completion.

Centers in California, Connecticut, and New Jersey each have received a two-year, $500,000 award. Building on investments The Kresge Foundation made in recent years to create Student Success Centers in Arkansas, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas, the new grants go to The Foundation for California Community Colleges, Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education/Connecticut State Colleges & Universities, and New Jersey Council of County Colleges. 

“These centers build a cohesive approach to engagement, learning and policy advocacy across each state’s two-year institutions,” says Caroline Altman Smith, senior program officer in Kresge’s Education Program. “The institutions then can spend their resources more effectively and create reforms that help the most students possible earn postsecondary credentials.”

The problems the Student Success Centers are tackling have significant implications for the future of our nation’s citizens, economy, and democracy. By 2020, an estimated 68 percent of jobs will require a postsecondary credential. According to U.S. Department of Education statistics, in 2008 only 26 percent of first-time beginning community college students attained a degree or certificate within five years. 

Community college-focused entities in 24 of the 50 states submitted letters of interest for the new grants, making clear the need for dedicated staff focused on increasing student success among underprepared and underserved students across the country.

The Centers’ founders all aim to strengthen the student success work their colleges and supporting associations and agencies have been doing for many years. 

The Kresge Foundation partnered with JFF to manage the highly competitive selection process. 

The centers selected “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 Gretchen Schmidt, Jobs for the Future’s program director for postsecondary state policy. 

JFF will aid in launching the three new Centers, and continue to lead the seven-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. 

In its recent publication Joining Forces, JFF documents Student Success Center goals and structure, their most important roles, and what they have accomplished so far.

About The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation is a $3 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, community development and our place-based efforts in Detroit. In 2013, the Board of Trustees approved 316 awards totaling $122 million; $128 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year. In addition, Kresge’s Social Investment Practice made commitments totaling $16 million in 2013. Kresge’s Education Program works to promote postsecondary access and success for low-income, first generation, and underrepresented students.
Twitter: @kresgefdn and @kresgedu

About Jobs for the Future

Jobs for the Future works with our partners to design and drive adoption of innovative and scalable education and career pathways leading from college readiness to career advancement for those struggling to succeed in today’s economy. The organization strives to fulfill the promise that education and economic mobility in America is achieved for everyone. Jobs for the Future works to ensure that all lower-income young people and workers have the skills and credentials needed to succeed in our economy, by creating solutions that catalyze change in our education and workforce delivery systems.
Twitter: @JFFtweets