Catalyze expands services in California to support student retention

ST. PAUL, Minn., May 2, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- College Possible Catalyze announced this week that it has launched new partnerships with three California universities to expand its college success support by more than 1,400 students. Catalyze will provide partners with on campus, near-peer coaches to support students from historically underrepresented and underserved communities in their pursuit of a college degree.

College Possible has been intentional in its desire to grow in California. "College Possible is thrilled to expand its footprint with new institutional partners California State - San Bernardino, University of California - Santa Cruz, and Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo," said Catherine Marciano, College Possible Vice President of Partnerships. "Our place-based coaches will extend the reach of services already existing on these campuses to ensure that first-generation college students and those from lower-income backgrounds receive one-to-one support centered on academic success, financial management and personal development topics." 

The addition of these three partnerships increases the number of partners in the state from one to four. In 2023-2024 California will host the largest number of Catalyze partners in a single state. 

California State University - San Bernardino (CSUSB) and College Possible are aligned in the mission to improve college access among underrepresented groups. Eighty percent of CSUSB's undergraduates are the first in their family to attend college, 74 percent are underrepresented minorities, and 56 percent qualify as Pell grant eligible, according to the university's Office of Institutional Research and Analytics. Catalyze has deployed coaches on the Palm Desert campus, with plans to serve approximately 560 students annually.

University of California, Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz), a public liberal arts university, plans to provide Catalyze coaching support to 700 students annually.  Some coaches will work within the Rosa Parks African American Theme House (R.PAATH) a student-initiated living-learning space for students whose interests span historical, present-day, and future experiences of predominantly African, Black, and Caribbean (ABC) peoples.

California Polytechnic State University has placed a concentrated effort on their diversity, equity and inclusion with a focus "to mirror the diversity and demographics of California by supporting everyone's potential to thrive in our learning community, especially historically underrepresented and marginalized individuals." Their partnership with College Possible Catalyze will serve 280 students in the College of Liberal Arts each year with a focus on men of color. As the newest Catalyze partner, Cal Poly will launch near-peer coaching in August 2023.

College Possible's Catalyze coaches are recent college graduates who've committed to a year of AmeriCorps service at their alma mater. They bring relevant, recent experience navigating many of the challenges their students face in complex college systems, accessing available campus and community resources, managing the cost of college, and staying on track academically. College Possible's near-peer coaching model leverages an intensive, evidence-based curriculum to achieve meaningful gains in student persistence and degree completion.

"We applaud the commitment of these partner universities," said Marciano. "Together, we are helping ensure that these often marginalized student groups receive personalized care. By working together, we can improve retention rates for these students in the years to come."

About College Possible: As one of the largest and most successful college access and success programs in the country, since 2000 College Possible has helped more than 80,000 students from under-represented communities get into and through college through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support. Its pioneering model matches students with a near-peer coach and an evidence-based curriculum designed to help students overcome the most common barriers to getting into college and completing their degree – all at no cost to students or their families. Nationwide, College Possible students are three times more likely to earn a bachelor's degree within six years than their peers from similar backgrounds. Headquartered in Saint Paul, MN, College Possible operates: regional sites in Chicago, IL; Milwaukee, WI; Omaha, NE; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; and Seattle, WA; College Forward in Austin, TX; and Catalyze partnerships in California, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee. Learn more at

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