PCCC is one of two community colleges in New Jersey that are participating in SUCCESS, the initiative developed by the nonprofit education and social policy research organization MDRC.
September 11, 2019

Passaic County Community College Participates in Nationwide Community College SUCCESS Initiative

Research-based program to support student success and improve graduation rates starts this Fall at PCCC

PATERSON, NJ – Passaic County Community College (PCCC) will participate in a new nationwide initiative to support student success and improve graduation rates for traditionally underserved students at community colleges.

PCCC is one of two community colleges in New Jersey and only nine across the country that are participating in SUCCESS (Scaling Up Community College Efforts for Success), the initiative developed by the nonprofit education and social policy research organization MDRC.  Support for the initiative is provided by Arnold Ventures and Lumina Foundation.

“MDRC is on the cutting edge of student success research. PCCC is excited about the opportunity to partner with MDRC to improve opportunities for our students, ” says Dr. Steven Rose, president of PCCC.

PCCC will receive $120,000 over the course of three years toward implementing SUCCESS, which aims to achieve its goals by helping schools align their existing resources with evidence-driven practices, such as proactive advising, financial support, and proven academic strategies. 

The SUCCESS program begins this Fall at PCCC and is geared toward students who are attending college for the first time and enrolled full-time.  Students in the SUCCESS program will receive special support services that include a monthly financial incentive of $50, in addition to proactive coaching focused on career exploration and tutoring, as well as holistic advising about financial aid, community resources, and other matters that could affect the academic success of at-risk students.

The program utilizes data tracking through a Management Information System to ensure it is operating effectively, to monitor students’ progress, and to communicate with students.

The SUCCESS initiative will represent a five-year commitment between MDRC and PCCC. The first year will start with a cohort of 60 students. Plans call for enrollment of 150 SUCCESS students for the following years. Additional staff will be added to carry out the initiative. SUCCESS will be evaluated using a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard in social science research for its ability to reliably show whether the program is having a positive impact on students.

During the five-year period of SUCCESS, participating colleges will work with MDRC and state leaders to assess the practices and outcomes of the initiative with the goal of establishing a model for continuing the most effective practices independently.

In other MDRC-evaluated programs aimed at increasing success rates among the underserved community college students, measures similar to those proposed for SUCCESS have demonstrated promising results. Research conducted by MDRC and other researchers has proven that comprehensive student support programs can have large impacts on community college students’ likelihood of persisting and graduating.

 “The work of MDRC has had a significant impact on improving student success at community colleges throughout the country,” said New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) President, Dr. Aaron Fichtner. “We see the learnings from SUCCESS as important tools that will help increase the number of people in New Jersey who hold post-secondary degrees or credentials. NJCCC looks forward to working with MDRC and the state on this important initiative that will improve student success for traditionally underserved students.”

Even more, the SUCCESS initiative will add another dimension to the significant role that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ascribes to community colleges.

“Education is a critical part of providing opportunity to our residents in New Jersey and to strengthening our innovation economy,” said Governor Murphy. “Our state is working toward the goal of 65 per cent of residents obtaining a high-quality credential by 2025. Essex County College and Passaic County Community College are participating in this innovative solution to help our state reach that goal.”