College Students in Arkansas to Receive a Boost From National Network
Funding to join Strong Start to Finish to help students complete college math and English, finish degree
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) - November 27, 2018 - Strong Start to Finish (SSTF), a national initiative aimed at significantly increasing the number and proportion of low-income students, students of color and returning adults who succeed in college math and English, welcomes the addition of Strong Start Arkansas to its network of systems implementing developmental education reforms. The Kresge Foundation awarded the Arkansas Department of Higher Education in partnership with Arkansas Community Colleges (ACC) a $150,000 grant to help students at 32 Arkansas institutions successfully start - and finish - college. The grant will provide funding to 22 community college and 10 public universities. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson allocated a matching $150,000 toward the effort. The goal is to help more students successfully pass math and English in their first year, which has been identified to increase their likelihood to graduate.
"There is a ground trend in higher education to better support all students - regardless of their academic preparation, income level, age or race," said Christopher Mullin, SSTF director. "This is an important and necessary step for the long-term viability of our communities. When we work as a collective network, using evidence-based models, we are able to achieve greater success for all."
SSTF is a network of committed postsecondary leaders and philanthropists, working together to charge institutional practice and policy across the nation and bring equity to education. SSTF is an initiative supported by Education Commission of the States, a nonpartisan organization that conducts research, delivers reports, provides expert counsel on the full spectrum of education policy issues, and convenes education leaders across the 50 states to learn from each other. Education Commission of the States, a Denver-based education policy nonprofit, received initial funding to support Strong Start to Finish from Ascendium Education Group (formerly Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates), The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.
Earlier this year, four systems - City University of New York (CUNY), Ohio Department of Higher Education, State University of New York (SUNY) and University System of Georgia (USG) - were selected to join Strong Start to Finish through a competitive process. Arkansas' application was held to the same high standard. As part of their commitment and partnership, each site agreed to scaling practices known to help more students pass foundational math and English courses.
"We are encouraged by the data we are receiving from our initial sites," said Jeremy Anderson, President of Education Commission of the States. "What is most exciting is that many colleges and universities were undertaking reforms, but this collective approach ensures that many more students will benefit. We are grateful to our supporters, who believe in a greater systemic impact, and to our system and state leaders, who are scaling evidence-based practices to support all students in the system."
SSTF selects institutions based on a number of factors including demonstrated work underway on reforms that will increase the number of low-income students, students of color and adult students complete gateway math and English courses in their first year of college, exhibit evidence of scale through the participation of a system and its institutions and provides evidence of foundation support.
Arkansas' focus under SSTF builds upon years of work to implement math pathways and other institutional reforms. "The state is set to help many more students, especially those underprepared, through Strong Start. The students will be able to complete gateway English and math courses, and eventually credentials and degrees. Being a part of Strong Start to Finish will provide critical support to institutional leadership to increase success rates over the next few years," says Governor Asa Hutchinson.
SSTF's partnership institutions maintain flexibility to execute programs they believe will work best for their students. Arkansas will focus on redesigning foundational English and math courses based upon the evidence-based practices with the support of the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin and Complete College America. Strong Start Arkansas plans to reach approximately 50,000 students a-year by 2020.
For more information on Strong Start to Finish, please visit www.strongstart.org or call (303) 299-3683.
Meredith Westheimer, Moore
About Strong Start to Finish
Strong Start to Finish (SSTF), an initiative of Education Commission of the States, is a national initiative aimed at significantly increasing the number and proportion of low-income students, students of color, and returning adults who succeed in college math and English. Comprised of like-minded individuals, including philanthropists, higher education leaders and practitioners, SSTF was created to help all students, not just the select few, find success in post-secondary education. Through this collective effort, SSTF anticipates fostering scalable changes, so that all college students have the best chance for a strong start to finish college. To date, SSTF has awarded more than $8 million in grants from Ascendium Education Group (formerly Great Lakes Education Corporation & Affiliates), The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Kresge Foundation to five college systems - City University of New York (CUNY), Ohio Department of Higher Education, State University System of New York (SUNY), University System of Georgia (USG) and Arkansas Community Colleges (ACC).