Kresge Foundation Awards $500,000 Grant to New Jersey Council of County Colleges to Help Community Colleges Improve Student Success — New Jersey is One of Three States to Receive Grant

TRENTON, N.J.–The Kresge Foundation has awarded $500,000 to help more of New Jersey’s community college students complete college and earn college credentials by funding New Jersey’s Center for Student Success, a statewide collaboration of New Jersey’s 19 community colleges.

“New Jersey’s community college trustees and presidents have been leading our statewide efforts to improve student completion since 2009 as part of our Big Ideas Project,” said NJCCC President Dr. Lawrence A. Nespoli. “We have worked collaboratively as 19 community colleges to transform our colleges from access institutions to access to student success institutions. With the Kresge Foundation’s support, our 19 community colleges can do even more to develop and implement programs that enable students to achieve their goals and realize their dreams.”

Throughout the country, Student Success Centers are supporting community colleges around common action to accelerate efforts to improve student persistence and completion.

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges will receive $250,000 a year for two years. Community college organizations in California and Connecticut will receive the same amount. These grants build on investments the Kresge Foundation has made in recent years to create Student Success Centers in Arkansas, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas. The national nonprofit Jobs for the Future has helped to launch each Center and lead a cross-state network to foster collaboration.

“These centers build a cohesive approach to engagement, learning, and policy advocacy across each state’s two-year institutions,” said Caroline Altman Smith, senior program officer in Kresge’s Education Program. “The institutions then can spend their resources more effectively and create reforms that help the most students possible earn postsecondary credentials.”

The problems the Student Success Centers are tackling have significant implications for the future of our nation’s citizens, economy and democracy. By 2020, an estimated 68 percent of jobs will require a postsecondary credential. Community colleges have a particularly important role to play as pathways to good-paying jobs that do not require a bachelor’s degree while at the same time being the most affordable option to a bachelor’s degree for those students who want to continue their education.

The Centers’ founders all aim to strengthen the student success work their colleges and supporting associations and agencies have been doing for many years under different initiatives.

Community college-focused entities in 24 of the 50 states submitted letters of interest for the new grants, making clear the need for a more dedicated focus on increasing student success among underprepared and underserved students across the country.

The Kresge Foundation partnered with JFF to manage the highly competitive selection process. California, Connecticut and New Jersey “each demonstrated a clear vision of a statewide policy agenda to increase community college persistence and completion, as well as the capacity for meaningful data analysis and strong commitment from a broad group of stakeholders,” said Dr. Gretchen Schmidt, JFF’s program director for postsecondary state policy.

JFF will aid in launching the new Centers in California and Connecticut and will help New Jersey bring more strategies and programs to the state’s 19 community colleges. JFF will also continue to lead the seven-state network to develop cross-state collaboration, provide strategic guidance, strengthen state-level capacity for data-informed decision making, and document Success Center models as they develop — capitalizing on a decade of JFF’s experience supporting state and local efforts to dramatically boost community college completion rates.

In its recent publication Joining Forces, [] JFF documents Student Success Center goals and structure, their most important roles and what they have accomplished so far.

New Jersey’s Center for Student Success, established in October 2012, works on behalf of the state’s 19 community colleges to more effectively assist students in achieving college completion. Grants from the Fund for New Jersey and the PSE&G Foundation helped to launch the Center. In addition to Kresge, the Center is also funded by the PSE&G Foundation and received programmatic support from the New Jersey Education Association, which funded the New Jersey Community College Completion Challenge in October 2013, the first-ever statewide student-led effort to raise awareness about the importance of earning college credentials.

About the New Jersey Council of County Colleges

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges is the state association representing New Jersey’s 19 community colleges. As an independent, trustee-headed organization that joins the leadership of trustees and presidents, the Council is the voice of the community college sector before the state legislature and other branches of government.

Twitter: @NJCommColleges

About the Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation is a $3 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, community development, and our place-based efforts in Detroit. In 2013, the Board of Trustees approved 316 awards totaling $122 million; $144 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year. In addition, Kresge’s Social Investment Practice made commitments totaling $16 million in 2013. Kresge’s Education Program works to post-secondary access and success for low-income, first generation and underrepresented students.

Twitter: @kresgefdn and @kresgedu

About Jobs for the Future

Jobs for the Future works with our partners to design and drive adoption of innovative and scalable education and career pathways leading from college readiness to career advancement for those struggling to succeed in today’s economy. The organization strives to fulfill the promise that education and economic mobility in America is achieved for everyone. Jobs for the Future works to ensure that all lower-income young people and workers have the skills and credentials needed to succeed in our economy, by creating solutions that catalyze change in our education and workforce delivery systems.

Twitter: @JFFtweets


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