A Campus Compact program with funding
from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
As community colleges serve large populations of under-prepared and vulnerable students at a time of decreasing budgets, they seek innovative and cost-effective ways to increase graduation rates while supporting high-quality learning experiences for all students. Connect2Complete (C2C), developed by Campus Compact, is a new model that takes advantage of existing resources to increase student learning and success.
C2C integrates two key features—service-learning and peer advocacy—into developmental education courses designed to support underprepared students in getting ready for college-level coursework. Peer advocates are enrolled college students who, in addition to leading service-learning projects, serve as mentors, advocates, and advisors to their peers in developmental education courses. This integrated strategy enables students to connect in meaningful ways with their peers and instructors and to experience the relevance of their coursework to the real world, both on campus and in their communities. The C2C strategy encourages academic, personal, and social development, as well as development of students’ cultural identity and critical civic consciousness—all key factors for student persistence.
Campus Compact & the C2C Pilot Program
Developed by Campus Compact —a national coalition of 1,100 college presidents committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education—C2C grew out of Campus Compact’s 2010 white paper, A Promising Connection: Increasing College Access and Success through Civic Engagement, which highlights local and national studies that demonstrate positive connections between civic engagement and college success.
In 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded funds to Campus Compact to develop and manage the C2C pilot project with nine community colleges in Florida, Ohio, and Washington and their related Compact state affiliates:
Miami Dade College
Tallahassee Community College
Cuyahoga Community College
Lorain County Community College
Owens Community College
Big Bend Community College
Edmonds Community College
Green River Community College
Over the course of the pilot (January 2012–May 2014), the nine colleges engaged more than 6,500 low-income, underprepared students. The C2C pilot program provided the colleges with an opportunity to test and fine-tune various approaches to C2C implementation. See the Theory of Change that guided the C2C pilot program.
Campus Compact partnered with researchers at the Center for Youth and Communities at Brandeis University to evaluate the C2C program. Data from the evaluation demonstrates that C2C is a promising model. C2C students benefited from the program in a variety of ways; most notably, when colleges implemented the model with fidelity, retention among C2C participants was higher than among a comparison group of developmental education students not in the program. After six semesters, the retention rate among C2C students was six percentage points higher than among the non-C2C comparison groups—a significant increase.
Evaluators also reported that C2C students demonstrated increased civic skills and awareness and that peer advocates had a positive impact on C2C students’ adjustment to college. Not surprisingly, peer advocates’ growth and leadership development was noteworthy and sometimes dramatic, and faculty members found inspiration in the C2C strategy for helping the most underprepared students succeed. For more detailed results, see the C2C Pilot Program Evaluation Report.
Based on the experiences of the pilot’s participating colleges and results from the implementation evaluation, Campus Compact has identified a promising model that can be adapted to a wide range of campus cultures.