The desire to ensure that underrepresented sectors of the student population have the access and ability to complete their chosen postsecondary education has helped drive some of the more innovative scholarship developments in recent years.

Some of those best practices are highlighted in a new brief recently released by the Helios Education Foundation titled, “Beyond Traditional Scholarships, An Exploration of How Philanthropic Organizations and Communities are Partnering with Colleges and Universities to Design Innovative Programs to Serve Underserved Students.

The brief  was the result of a collaboration between the Helios Education Foundation, the Florida Philanthropic Network (FPN) and Florida College Access Network (FCAN). The organizations came together in service of the Community Foundation Challenge Grant for Local College Access Networks (LCAN) Development. The purpose of the project, which was funded by Helios and the Kresge Foundation, is to increase the college-going and postsecondary completion rates for minority, low-income, first-generation and other underrepresented students by leveraging local private investment through Florida community foundations and to engage and sustain college access coalitions.

“In order to increase student retention, and ultimately increase the number of degreed individuals, more state colleges and universities are exploring innovative scholarship models that address not only the cost of tuition, but also address short-term financial challenges that might impede persistence,” said Paul Perrault, vice president and director of research and evaluation for the Helios Education Foundation.

The brief showcases several successful programs at Florida postsecondary institutions.

That includes Florida International University in Miami, which launched the Graduation Success Initiative award in 2014. The innovative completion grant program provides first-time, full-time degree-seeking seniors with up to $1,200 to finish their degree.

Destination: Graduation — a partnership between Central Florida College Access Network (CFCAN) Heart of Florida United Way, the 211 social services community, and Seminole State College — helps students overcome non-academic barriers such as financial emergencies. The program has assisted almost 800 students since launching in 2015 and demonstrated success in helping students at risk of dropping out of college persist with their educations.

Hillsborough Community College launched its Mathematics Access Performance Scholarship (MAPS) at two of its campuses in 2010 to support community college students who are unable to complete remedial coursework. The MAPS program provides a financial incentive to low-income students enrolled in remedial coursework for academic success and effort. Students were awarded $600 per semester (for up to three semesters) for completing a three-course math sequence, using on-campus math labs, and earning higher grades.  Students participating in the program accumulated more college credit and were more likely to complete a college-level math course as a result.

Florida State College at Jacksonville is the first public community college in the state to join the national College Promise Campaign, which aims to serve up to 1,000 new college students each year. Beginning fall 2017, public high school graduates in Nassau and Duval counties were able to receive a free community college education at FSCJ.

Read the full report at the Helios Education Foundation website.


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