For the 2018 Grantmaking Cycle, Graduate NYC’s College Completion Innovation Fund (CCIF) is investing $685,000 in four innovative projects–three to colleges, one to a community-based organization– to improve college persistence and completion rates among low-income, first-generation college students in New York City. These pioneering initiatives have the potential to help the young people they serve make great strides in obtaining a college degree, while creating important learning opportunities that will benefit the college success field as a whole. The CCIF’s funded projects from the 2018 Grantmaking Cycle will begin implementation in the fall of 2018.

A national leader in online education, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) accommodates the needs of working adults who aim to transition into or begin a bachelor’s degree, earn a master’s degree or certificate, advance in their current occupation, or change careers. The two-year CCIF grant to CUNY SPS is supporting a project called U-Turn, which works to rectify two obstacles institutions face in seeking to serve adult learners: forgiving the past poor academic performance of working adults in their attempts to return to school and complete their degrees, and abbreviating time to degree for working adults who are unable to take 15 credits per semester. The new admissions process that will be adopted as a result of U-Turn will allow applicants to demonstrate their proficiencies in communication, data analysis and presentation, project management, and other pertinent workplace skills by means of an electronic portfolio platform. This unique approach will allow hundreds of adult learners the second chance they need to achieve the social and economic mobility that having a degree brings.

 
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Hunts Point Alliance for Children (HPAC) has worked with local families to support the educational growth and development of children in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx since 2007. The two-year CCIF grant to HPAC is supporting the Hunts Point College Culture Collective, a project in which HPAC is leveraging its existing relationship with Rocking the Boat and St. Ignatius Middle School Graduate Support Program to tackle two prominent barriers to college persistence and completion in the Hunts Point community: lack of access to campus support systems, and low expectations among students and their peers to graduate from high school and attend and complete college. Hunts Point Culture Collective will introduce a dedicated, community-based college advisor and a cohort of peer mentors to the neighborhood, as well as establish a college hub to give students a feel for the campus life they often lack as commuters.

Founded in 1971, CUNY’s LaGuardia Community College (LGCC) in Long Island City, Queens serves over 50,000 New Yorkers a year and is renowned for pioneering innovative programs and initiatives in the community college space. The two-year CCIF grant to LGCC is supporting the Pushing Momentum project, which will launch a mobile advisement application to redress the fact that a large percentage of LGCC students shift from full-time to part-time status, or fail to persist altogether, after their first semester, due to unfamiliarity with college administrative processes. This application will be integrated into the First Year Seminar beginning spring 2019, during which students will receiving training and support. It will deliver important information and nudges via push notifications; provide a straightforward platform for advisement appointment scheduling; link to students’ momentum scores so as to track progress and communicate to students what they can do to reduce time to degree; link to students’ graduation plans so that they may be viewed quickly and easily; and provide a visualization tool that allows students to examine how the various decisions they make ultimately impact their graduation prospects.

Founded in 1937, CUNY’s Queens College (QC) is a four-year college located in Flushing, Queens and has a student body representing more than 150 nations. The two-year CCIF grant to QC is supporting Transitions to Teaching, a pilot program that seeks to improve the momentum and persistence of transfer students in the school’s Elementary Education program, who often struggle with adapting to their new college environment and lack access to necessary support structures. Transitions to Teaching will employ a holistic approach that includes establishing a community of practice (CoP) comprised of students, faculty, and advisors to address the informational, socioemotional, and academic concerns that these students face, as well as a mobile program application that will serve as the CoP’s virtual communication interface.