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Washington State to Create a Student Success Center with New $500,000 Grant

January 21, 2016 by SBCTC Communications

Olympia, WA – Jobs for the Future (JFF) is pleased to announce the launch of five new Student Success Centers, supported by a $2.5 million investment from The Kresge Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The investment will help more low-income students, students of color, and first-generation students earn college credentials by expanding a thriving national network of Student Success Centers that JFF directs. These centers provide the vision, support, and a shared venue for a state’s community colleges as they work in partnership on a collective student success agenda.

The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) will receive $250,000 a year for each of the next two years. Community college organizations in Hawaii, New York, North Caroline and Virginia will receive the same amount. This new work builds on investments The Kresge Foundation made in recent years to create centers in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas.

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

Student Success Centers organize a state’s community colleges around common action to accelerate their efforts to improve student outcomes. They provide faculty and staff with venues for sharing and learning, aggregate technical assistance efforts, and help colleges collaborate. Student Success Centers pointedly seek to bridge the gap between policymakers and practitioners as they implement reforms that will help the most students possible earn postsecondary credentials.

The centers selected for these grants “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 Chris Baldwin, Jobs for the Future’s Senior Director.

The host organizations for the Student Success Centers all aim to strengthen the student success work their colleges and supporting associations and agencies have been doing for many years.

Jan Yoshiwara, SBCTC Deputy Executive Director of Education, said the student success center will be a “powerhouse for expanding innovations throughout Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges.”

“More than half of the public college students in Washington are enrolled at our community and technical colleges,” she said. “A center like this can have a huge impact on our state.”

Washington’s student success center will focus on increasing the number of community and technical college students who earn certificates and degrees, especially low-income students and students of color.

A leadership institute will provide training in how to introduce and manage widespread changes at colleges. Among those changes is the concept of “guided pathways,” a research-based approach that is gaining traction nationally. With this approach, students are given clear, deliberate, simple course choices that lead to certificates and degrees. Within one or two terms, students are directed into intentional pathways that lead to credentials. Guided pathways are to students what GPS systems are to drivers – a step-by-step set of directions to a final destination.

JFF will spearhead the launch of the five new centers, and continue to lead the expanded 12-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.

For more information about the Student Success Centers and the national network, please go to the following link on the JFF website:

Additional Contacts:

Sophie Besl, Jobs for the Future,, 617-603-4405

Krista Jahnke, The Kresge Foundation,, 248-643-9630

About Jobs for the Future

Jobs for the Future is a national nonprofit that works to ensure educational and economic opportunity for all. We develop innovative career pathways, educational resources, and public policies that increase college readiness and career success, and build a more highly skilled workforce. With over 30 years of experience, JFF is the national leader in bridging education and work to increase mobility and strengthen our economy.
Twitter: @JFFtweets

About The Kresge Foundation

“The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America's cities through grant making and investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, community development in Detroit. In 2014, the Board of Trustees approved 408 awards totaling $242.5 million. That included a $100 million award to the Foundation for Detroit’s Future, a fund created to soften the impact of the city’s bankruptcy on pensioners and safeguard cultural assets at the Detroit Institute of Arts. A total of $138.1 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year. In addition, our Social Investment Practice made commitments totaling $20.4 million in 2014.”

Twitter: @kresgefdn and @kresgedu

Last Modified: 6/18/18 3:43 PM
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