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Westchester Community College Receives $1 Million Grant

President, Belinda Miles greets a student at Westchester Community College.
President, Belinda Miles greets a student at Westchester Community College. Photo Credit: Facebook

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. --Westchester Community College has received a pioneering, $1 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation through its 2016 Moving the Needle Competition.

The Moving the Needle Competition provides funding for state and local governments and nonprofit organizations to implement evidence-based programs that “move the needle” on pressing social problems.

Westchester Community College’s proposal to replicate aspects of the City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) was chosen after multiple rounds of reviews in a highly competitive grant process. The college was one of three institutions, selected out of 34 nationally-submitted proposals, to be invited to apply for support. The selection puts the college at the national forefront of community college reform and recognizes the institution’s capacity for leading change.

Belinda Miles, Westchester Community College President, praised the Foundation’s recognition of the college’s focus on student success and academic excellence. “We are thrilled to have support from the Arnold Foundation to accelerate our momentum toward improving educational and career pathways for students,” said Miles. “This is an opportunity to extend these types of reform within different University systems. The Foundation’s significant investment in a model which promises to greatly increase completion rates at community colleges across the nation is truly visionary.”

Nearly half of all U.S. undergraduates attend community colleges, but only 21.8 percent nationally graduate within three years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The ASAP program was designed to provide comprehensive financial, academic and student support services needed to increase the percentage of full-time community college students who complete an associates degree within three years. 

ASAP’s “system of reforms” have the express goal of graduating at least 50 percent of students within three years and will be fully implemented in Westchester’s program. These supports include financial resource, structured academic pathways, immediate and early completion of developmental courses, winter and summer enrollment and student support services.

“We believe the ASAP model will extend our work with cohort management and further improve our student success initiatives,” said Miles.

Westchester Community College’s implementation, set to begin January 2017, will be done in partnership with CUNY’s ASAP Technical Team. The renowned Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) will measure the results of the program and publish their findings nationally.