Graduate NYC’s College Completion Innovation Fund (CCIF) is investing nearly $1.3 million in innovative projects to improve college persistence and completion rates in New York City. Three grants were made by the CCIF during the 2015 Grantmaking Cycle to serve low-income, first-generation college students. These projects have the potential to catalyze innovation and significantly improve college graduation rates for the young people they serve, while influencing the college success field more broadly. The CCIF’s funded projects from the 2015 Grantmaking Cycle began implementation in the fall of 2015.

The CCIF grant to Guttman Community College was a three-year grant to support the implementation of a technology-based student retention and engagement solution called Starfish, which is designed to increase student persistence rates for the entire student body. Starfish is a comprehensive Early Alert technology that is now being used to enhance and support Guttman’s model and systematize advising protocols. This project directly improved student persistence and success, and enabled the college to sustain its high-touch, high-impact advisement and academic support structure, as it continues to scale up to enroll and support thousands of students in the coming years.

The CCIF grant to Hostos Community College propelled the campus forward in scaling up two remedial interventions that had the potential to increase pass rates and academic success for hundreds of students. This was a two-year grant to support two initiatives designed to improve student retention rates, address students’ developmental needs and bolster their success in more challenging courses. The first intervention, Supplemental Instruction, was an academic support model that uses weekly peer-led study sessions to improve student retention and success within targeted courses across disciplines that have historically had high rates of drop/fail/withdrawal. The project also included Small Group Tutorial Intervention, designed to assist students who have taken remedial courses multiple times in passing their developmental skills exams, through three-hour weekly tutorials, supplemented with online tutorials and other supports.

NYC Outward Bound Schools is a community-based nonprofit organization that was founded in 1987 and currently works in 10 schools across the five boroughs. It launched its To & Through College initiative in 2011 to give students the support and preparation they need to not only matriculate but to complete college. The CCIF grant to NYC Outward Bound Schools was a two-year grant to support To & Through College. Specifically, this grant supported an advisement intervention called CUNY Crew, based on Outward Bound’s successful high school-level crew model which supports student progress toward high school graduation and college acceptance. CUNY Crew is a college-level advisory program for Outward Bound alumni who are entering a CUNY community college without being a part of another support program. Students in the crew met weekly with a counselor and participated in a series of technology-themed projects with real-world value, designed to help future Outward Bound alumni entering CUNY. This culminated in a series of videos on growth mindsets and success in college. The CCIF grant also invested in three pilot technology interventions that supported more than 2,500 college freshman, and students who have graduated high school but have not yet enrolled in college, with the goal of dramatically increasing persistence rates for these young people.

CUNY Crew Videos: