Maine’s Community Colleges Join College Completion Accelerator to Boost Student Outcomes and Completion Rates Nationwide

August 30, 2023

Complete College America will work with 80+ colleges across 11 states to eliminate barriers to student success and higher education attainment

INDIANAPOLIS (AUG. 29, 2023) – Complete College America (CCA), a national non-profit organization on a mission to raise postsecondary attainment in the United States, announced today the selection of eleven state partners to join the Complete College Accelerator, an ambitious nationwide initiative to improve student success and close gaps in college access and completion. With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Intermediaries for Scale (IFS) initiative, CCA will work with eleven state agencies over the next four years to implement research-based practices designed to dramatically increase college completion on a statewide scale. The initial cohort of Complete College Accelerator states includes:

  • Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education
  • Louisiana Board of Regents
  • Maine Community College System
  • Minnesota Private Colleges Council
  • Missouri Commission of Higher Education and Workforce Development
  • New Mexico Higher Education Department
  • Ohio Association of Community Colleges
  • Ohio Department of Higher Education
  • South Carolina Commission on Higher Education
  • Vermont State University
  • Washington Student Achievement Council
  • University of Wisconsin System

“While persistence and retention are finally returning to pre-pandemic levels at both two-year and four-year institutions, there are troubling gaps in access, completion, and career outcomes that continue to persist for students from underserved communities,” said Yolanda Watson Spiva, Ph.D., president of CCA. “As institutions and economies continue to shift following the pandemic, taking action now is critical to long-term success. Through the Complete College Accelerator, these eleven states and more than eighty participating institutions will build their capacity to scale, implement, and sustain evidence-based practices that improve college completion rates for all students.”

Utilizing funding from the national grant program, CCA will engage with higher education agencies from each Complete College Accelerator partner state to build a network of more than 80 institutions who will conduct assessments of institutional performance, build data capacity, and develop and implement strategies to improve student outcomes.

Nationally, about 90% of students from under-resourced families do not graduate within six years–let alone four. According to NASPA’s Center for First-generation Student Success, 56% of first-generation college students had not attained a postsecondary credential after six years. Research from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics shows that 6-year graduation rates for Black and Latinx students stand at 51.5%, lower than graduation rates for White students.

The Complete College Accelerator builds upon CCA’s long track record of developing the capacity of states, higher education systems and campuses to create and implement data-informed transformative policies and practices. The selection of state partners is the result of a competitive RFP process, which launched in February. Participating states were selected from members of the Complete College America Alliance — which includes senior leadership from states, systems, institutional consortia, and partner organizations — and, in turn, selected the participating institutions.

Originally launched in January 2020, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Intermediaries for Scale Initiative is designed to help build the capacity of colleges and universities across the country to implement proven strategies for improving student success at scale. CCA is among six selected entities that will now work over a 5-year period to increase student success through institutional transformation. The members of the IFS Cohort include UNCF, American Association of State Colleges & Universities (AASCU), American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), Excelencia in Education, and Growing Inland Achievement (GIA).

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