Edmonds Community College wins grant aimed at helping students graduate

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Edmonds Community College announced Tuesday that the school has been awarded two-year funding from Campus Compact, a Boston-based national nonprofit organization, to pilot a program intended to help community college students persist in school and ultimately graduate. The grant will fund Connect2Complete (C2C) pilots in Florida, Ohio and Washington state, on three community college campuses in each state.

In Washington, those schools are Edmonds, Big Bend and Green River community colleges.

“Connect2Complete demonstrates the commitment to Washington students these campuses make in a time of diminishing state funds,” said Jennifer Hine, executive director of Washington Campus Compact. “While their ability to leverage federal AmeriCorps funding and private foundation dollars won’t offset the drastic cuts in state funding, it will still allow them to be successful in meeting the needs of the students they serve.”

Campus Compact has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch C2C. Compact President Maureen F. Curley explains, “We will mobilize over 150 peer advocates to support 4,500 students enrolled in developmental education courses. In collaboration with our community college and state Compact sub-grantees, we will develop model strategies that have the potential to be adopted at community colleges across the country to help these students achieve the goal of graduation — so valued by them and their families.”

A competitive application process was employed to choose the states that will work with community colleges. Edmonds Community College has proposed initiating a pilot project through which they will define best practices in student engagement and advocacy in an effort to increase community college students’ persistence toward completing credentials by connecting them to peer advocates. Furthermore, this project aims to help students move on to pursue a degree in a university online or on campus.

Nationally, only 40 percent of community college students complete their programs of study.

C2C will directly benefit students entering developmental education, and those students eligible for Pell grants, who are statistically more likely to struggle to complete college. Peer advocates will work alongside faculty in developmental education classes, individually, and in small groups to support students in goal setting, making connections to college life, navigating college systems, and linking to college services designed to help students complete their credentials.

“Our goal is to develop a model we can replicate throughout Washington and then, hopefully, our nation that is cost-effective and improves student success at our college. We’re very excited to be part of this new initiative,” said Edmonds Community College President Jean Hernandez.

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