UH Community College graduates

To help more Hawaiʻi community college students complete and earn college credentials, the Kresge Foundation has awarded $500,000 to the University of Hawaiʻi Community College System’s proposed Student Success Center, a statewide collaboration of Hawaiʻi’s seven community colleges.

University of Hawaiʻi Community College System was one of five new Student Success Centers supported by a $2.5 million investment from The Kresge Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The investment will help more low-income students, students of color and first-generation students earn college credentials by expanding a thriving national network of Student Success Centers. Kresge has partnered with Jobs for the Future to work directly with the centers to operationalize these initiatives. These centers provide the vision, support and a shared venue for a state’s community colleges as they work in partnership on a collective student success agenda.

“The community colleges are critical components in preparing the next generation to meet the state’s workforce needs and I’m very pleased these national organizations recognize the value of investing in our community colleges in Hawaiʻi,” says Peter Quigley, associate vice president for academic affairs for the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges. “This grant comes at a perfect time as we recently deployed a new Student Success Council charged with prioritizing and implementing strategies consistently throughout the community college system that will lead to a dramatic increase in student success metrics.”

Quigley said the new UHCC Student Success Center will help the community colleges reach strategic plan goals by supporting initiatives such as the rollout of a co-requisite model in fall 2016, which places unprepared students in college-level courses with appropriate supplemental support. This model has shown to be five-times more successful than the old model of prerequisite courses in other states.

Leeward Community College graduates

More on the Student Success Center grant

The University of Hawaiʻi Community College System will receive $250,000 a year for each of the next two years. Community college organizations in the other four states—New York, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington—will receive the same amount. This builds on investments The Kresge Foundation made in recent years to create centers in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas.

“These centers build a cohesive approach to engagement, learning and policy advocacy across each state’s two-year institutions,” says Caroline Altman Smith, deputy director of Kresge’s Education Program. “The colleges can then spend their resources more effectively and create reforms that help the most students possible graduate.”

Student Success Centers organize a state’s community colleges around common action to accelerate their efforts to improve student outcomes. They provide faculty and staff with venues for sharing and learning, aggregate technical assistance efforts and help colleges collaborate. Student Success Centers pointedly seek to bridge the gap between policymakers and practitioners as they implement reforms that will help the most students possible earn postsecondary credentials.

Goal to increase community college persistence and completion

As of fall 2015, 30,370 students were enrolled in UH community colleges, or 54.5 percent of the 55,756 students enrolled in the 10 campus UH System. In the academic year 2014–2015, UH community colleges awarded a total of 4,825 degrees and certificates of achievement.

The centers selected for these grants “each demonstrated a clear vision of a statewide policy agenda to increase community college persistence and completion, as well as the capacity for meaningful data analysis and strong commitment from a broad group of stakeholders,” says Chris Baldwin, Jobs for the Future’s senior director.

Jobs for the Future will spearhead the launch of the five new centers, and continue to lead the expanded 12-state network to develop cross-state collaboration, provide strategic guidance, strengthen state-level capacity for data-informed decision making and document Success Center models as they develop—capitalizing on a decade of Jobs for the Future’s experience supporting state and local efforts to dramatically boost community college completion rates.

The host organizations for the Student Success Centers all aim to strengthen the student success work their colleges and supporting associations and agencies have been doing for many years.

For more information about the Student Success Centers and the national network, visit the