California State University-Stanislaus (Stanislaus State), a Hispanic-serving institution that serves more than 8,600 students in California’s Central Valley, announced a major new initiative designed to improve student retention, particularly among low-income and first-generation students at its Stockton campus. Through a partnership with College Possible, Stanislaus State will provide coaching and mentoring programs for more than 400 students from historically underrepresented backgrounds.
The partnership with College Possible builds on our 20-year history of training AmeriCorps service members as college access and success mentors to help high school juniors and seniors from low-income backgrounds enroll in — and complete — college. Through our Catalyze program, College Possible intends to scale similar, near-peer coaching programs across a growing number of institutions nationwide. Recent results show that 92 percent of first time college students were retained from fall 2018 to spring 2019.
“We are proud to integrate new and innovative approaches to better support our students, which is why Catalyze is such a fitting new model for the unique needs of Stanislaus State students,” said Kim Greer, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at California State University, Stanislaus. “By tapping into the talents and experiences of recent college graduates and the near-peer coaching model, our partnership will enable us to close gaps in resource equity, help first-generation and low-income students navigate the first year of college, and prepare more students for a successful experience in pursuit of a degree.”
The new initiative is part of Stan State’s efforts to improve first-year persistence rates as part of Graduation Initiative 2025, the California State University’s ambitious initiative to increase graduation rates for all CSU students and eliminating equity and achievement gaps. College Possible’s Catalyze coaches are recent college graduates. Many have, themselves, navigated challenges that could have ended their educational journeys. Each coach is physically located at the University, maintains a full-time presence on the campus, and works directly alongside students to help them navigate the college experience. This near-peer coaching model leverages the power of passionate, dedicated, recent college graduates to offer advice and mentorship as students navigate the complex world of college completion.
The Catalyze partnership with College Possible is also part of a concerted push in the region to increase college access and success. College Possible’s coaches are members of the Stockton Service Corps, which brings more than 100 service fellows to the region. Through generous support from the Reinvent Stockton Foundation, the coaches focus on supporting Stockton Scholars, a major scholarship initiative created to provide targeted financial support and wraparound services for low-income students from Stockton.
“This is about translating a coaching model honed for years through the energy and insights of our team members into a scalable approach that colleges and use to change the odds for first-generation students,” said Craig Robinson, President of College Possible. “By partnering directly with colleges to not only support students directly, but build capacity and expertise to sustain the hard work of coaching, we can help institutions to improve outcomes – and close equity gaps – on an even broader scale.”