Center for Law and Social Policy Announces $4.8 Million Initiative to Boost Graduation Rates

The Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington, D.C., has announced the launch of a three-year, $4.84 million initiative to test innovative approaches aimed at boosting the number of low-income students earning postsecondary credentials.

Supported by the Open Society Foundations and the Ford, Kresge, Lumina, and Annie E. Casey foundations, the Benefits Access for College Completion (BACC) initiative will connect low-income students with public benefits such as childcare subsidies and food assistance in order to determine whether coordinated income supports enable more students to stay in school longer and complete their studies more quickly.

Administered by CLASP and the American Association of Community Colleges, the initiative will be launched this fall and continue through 2014. The seven community and technical colleges participating in the effort will work to advance the plans they created during the planning phase of the initiative, such as expanding or developing new campus centers that help students access the financial resources they need to complete college; identify innovative financing strategies to fund benefits screeners and facilitators on campus and integrate existing online benefits screening tools into on-campus activities; build information about publicly available supports into financial aid conversations and raise awareness of the supports among faculty, staff, and students; and assist counselors and other direct service staff tasked with providing technical support to students.

The participating colleges are Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio; Gateway Community and Technical College in Kentucky; LaGuardia Community College in New York City; Lake Michigan College and Macomb Community College in Michigan; Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania; and Skyline College in California.

"In today's economy, it's more important than ever that students have the supports to earn a higher education so they can land better jobs and support their families," said CLASP director of workforce development Evelyn Ganzglass. "Rising college costs mean an education is increasingly out of reach for millions. By combining traditional student financial aid with public supports, students are better positioned to get by and complete their education. And when more students earn credentials, more employers have the skilled workers they need, and the labor market is able to stay competitive."

"Seven Community Colleges to Pilot Benefits Access Project." Center for Law and Social Policy Press Release 09/11/2012.