College Possible To Expand California Partnerships

College Possible, a leader in college access and student success, has received a $700,000 grant from ECMC Foundation to fund the expansion of its Catalyze partnership program in California. The program supports promising students who are Pell Grant eligible, many of whom are the first in their families to go to college.

Catalyze helps higher education institutions implement a near-peer coaching model and curriculum that hires recent college graduates as mentors to current college students. This partnership structure extends the reach of campuses' existing student support services, increases student retention rates and closes the opportunity gap for first-generation and Pell Grant-eligible students.

"ECMC Foundation invests in evidence-based innovation that is directly linked to improving educational outcomes, especially for underserved populations," said Sarah Belnick, the senior program director of college success at ECMC Foundation. "That's why we are proud to support the expansion of College Possible's Catalyze program. It is especially critical now that more students benefit from having campus navigators that can guide them as they persist and graduate."

The four-year grant will fund positions and activities tied to program growth and implementation at partner institutions in California. College Possible works with on-campus leadership to train AmeriCorps members to serve as near-peer coaches and to provide high-touch, personalized support and guidance to help students chart a path to graduation.

"This grant will allow us to strategically scale our innovative and evidence-based model across California, a leader among states in higher education," said Catalyze director Margaret Jaques-Leslie. "We are committed to helping our institutional partners close equity gaps by enhancing support for first-generation and Pell-eligible students."

College Possible is currently in its first year of a partnership with California State University, Stanislaus, that is serving nearly 500 students. With the support of ECMC Foundation, that number will expand to 2,400 students across five campus partners in California by 2024.

Across all partner campuses in 2018-19, College Possible students were retained at a rate that was 4.6 percentage points higher than their Pell Grant-eligible peers. At a medium-sized regional public institution, the retention rate for College Possible students exceeded the Pell retention rate by nearly 13 points. At a large urban public institution, the retention rate for College Possible students exceeded the Pell retention rate by almost 10 points.



ECMC Foundation is a Los Angeles-based, nationally focused foundation whose mission is to inspire and to facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes—especially among underserved populations—through evidence-based innovation. It is one of several affiliates under the ECMC Group enterprise based in Minneapolis. ECMC Foundation makes investments in two focus areas, College Success and Career Readiness, and uses a spectrum of funding structures, including strategic grantmaking and program-related investments, to invest in both nonprofit and for-profit ventures. Working with grantees, partners and peers, ECMC Foundation's vision is for all learners to unlock their fullest potential. Learn more about ECMC Foundation by visiting and ECMC Group by visiting

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