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Grant from APLU/USU Assists Cleveland State in Driving Student Success

Will fund expansion of University’s efforts to help individuals complete their degrees

Stop Out

Cleveland State University will partner with College Now Greater Cleveland to expand its award-winning student success initiatives, thanks to a $50,000 grant awarded by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU). The program, called (Re)Connecting to College, will work to identify individuals who have “stopped out” of college and help them address their financial and academic needs so they can return to school and complete their degrees. The grant is one of 12 awarded to public institutions across the country to advance university-community partnerships as a means to boost student success. The awards, known as Collaborative Opportunity Grants, support innovative approaches that link student success with an institution’s community engagement.

“People stop-out for many reasons and in many cases academic guidance and financial counseling can help them address their issue so they can return to school,” notes Peter Meiksins, vice provost for academic programs at CSU. “However, most universities do not have the time or resources to engage these individuals and provide the assistance they need. This grant will allow us to partner with College Now, a local non-profit focused on post-secondary attainment, to properly identify students who have stopped out, provide needed advice and support and get them back on the path to graduation.”

As part of the initiative, College Now advisors will reach out to students who have stopped out, identify the issues that led to them leaving school and then work to assist them in addressing those challenges. Students will then be referred to the CSU Transfer Center where they will receive help in addressing academic issues and mapping out a path to a degree. CSU is also seeking additional funding to further develop the initative and expand its reach.

The effort builds on CSU’s award-winning student success programs which have helped reduce the cost of earning an undergraduate degree by more than $3,000 annually and assisted in increasing graduation rates by 60 percent over the last five years. In honor of these accomplishments, CSU was awarded a 2015 Excellence and Innovation Award by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

“The public universities receiving these grants have undertaken efforts that represent a sea change in the way we think about student success,” said Shari Garmise, vice president of APLU’s Office of Urban Initiatives and Executive Director of USU. “For decades, institutions have applied a nearly singular focus on addressing academic hurdles students face once they’re enrolled. These institutions are saying that isn’t enough. We have to work with community partners to ensure students have the required resources to apply, the necessary instruction to be prepared for the rigor of college coursework, and the tools they need to thrive in the workforce and drive positive change in their communities.”

In July, representatives from Cleveland State and the 11 other universities awarded grants will convene in Washington, D.C. to strategize and collaborate on their initiatives. USU and APLU will disseminate key findings from the institutions’ work after the Collaborative Opportunity Grant program has concluded to help promote best practices that other public universities can adapt.

The 11 other institutions receiving grants include: California State University, Fresno; California State University, Northridge; California State University, Los Angeles; Fort Valley State University; Georgia State University; the University of California, Riverside; San Jose State University; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; the University of Memphis; University of South Alabama; and University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. The Collaborative Opportunity Grant program is supported with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.