Phoenix College has been awarded a $187,000 grant by the Gateway to College National Network as part of the Project DEgree initiative. Funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this initiative will help students achieve success in their pursuit of a college education. Phoenix College was chosen as one of eight schools across the nation to participate.
Project DEgree is designed to provide a college success structure for 18-26-year-olds who have earned a high school diploma or GED, but who still require further education to prepare for college-level coursework. The program provides students with intensive academic and social supports, offers an engaging foundation-based curriculum and establishes a peer group learning community to help students structure their lives so they can build and maintain the momentum necessary to complete their educational goals.
“Project DEgree provides the funds to concentrate all of the best practices to ensure success and completion for this cohort of students,” said Robin Ozz, director of developmental education at Phoenix College. “This includes a theme-based, active engagement learning community of Reading, English, and College Success skills, along with a dedicated resource specialist who will not only teach the success course but whose primary job it is to ensure student success, whether the barriers are academic or personal,” she said.
In their first year, students will be part of a learning community with 25 peers. Together, they will take developmental coursework in reading and writing, a college success course, and will receive preparatory tutoring in math. After completing their initial courses, students will progress as a learning community, taking the next sequence of reading, writing, and math classes, as well as a counseling and personal development course.
During the second year of the Project DEgree initiative, students will transition into college-level coursework and progress toward the certificate or degree of their choice. They will be encouraged to take 12 credit hours of coursework each semester. In this phase, the students will be supported by a completion advisor who will work closely with advising staff to provide counseling and connection to college resources and support services.
“This program is based on what has been working for the Gateway to College Network with incredible results for the past five years in high schools nationwide, and now they are replicating these success strategies for the under prepared student in the community college,” said Ozz.
Gateway to College National Network is a national nonprofit organization that is tackling the dropout crisis and catalyzing change across developmental education in colleges. Organizational strategies include creating and replicating innovative programs, building partnerships, influencing systems, conducting research and sharing what they know, helping effect policy and regulatory changes, and providing customized consulting services. The National Network also offers training, technical assistance, and professional development opportunities to Gateway to College and Project DEgree programs across the country.