ECMC Foundation Awards New Grant to IEBC Expanding Caring Campus Initiative

Los Angeles, Calif. ECMC Foundation, a nationally focused foundation investing in initiatives that improve educational outcomes and support post-secondary education and career success among underserved populations, will provide funding to the Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC) to expand its Caring Campus Initiative. The newly announced $600,000 grant will fund two rounds of implementation starting in 2021 and extending through April 2023. Up to eight community colleges will be selected for participation each year.

Participants may implement the Caring Campus program for faculty, staff, or both. Due to the pandemic, IEBC anticipates implementation will take place primarily in a virtual environment initially, then adding onsite visits when feasible. IEBC coaches have experience successfully implementing Caring Campus in both the on-campus and virtual options.

“Caring Campus uses a unique coaching method resulting in campus wide involvement of faculty and of staff, engaging a representative group to develop and plan for implementation of behavioral commitments,” said Dr. Brad Phillips, President/CEO of IEBC. “The goal is to scale moving forward with this core group who will engage with their peers to implement the Caring Campus program campus wide,” explained Phillips.

Over 60 colleges are implementing Caring Campus around the country. They are seeing improvements in course retention and success, increased term to term persistence, and improved completion and transfer. Achievement gaps are being closed rapidly among participant campus populations. There is little to no resource commitment beyond the initial IEBC coaching, driving behavior changes that improve and enhance the many student success initiatives already being implemented at colleges in a cost-effective way with accelerated ramp-up time.

The objective of Caring Campus is to increase student retention and success in community colleges by creating and cultivating Caring Campus environments through intentional behaviors by faculty and staff to improve students’ sense of caring and connectedness to the college. “We know there are common behaviors that better connect students with staff and faculty,” said IEBC President and CEO Brad Phillips.

“This new grant continues to build upon and support IEBC’s greater mission of improving student success and closing equity gaps. We hear a lot of words about meeting students where they are. Caring Campus really puts this into action,” said Phillips.

ECMC Foundation funding will allow IEBC to invite two groups of up to eight colleges each to participate in Caring Campus faculty and/or staff initiatives, with each group running for one year.

“Oftentimes, campus climates can be chilly towards students from underrepresented backgrounds, which leads to feelings of further marginalization and disconnect. The attrition of these students in particular perpetuates the inequality and inaccessibility of post-secondary education for all,” said Sarah Belnick, Sr. Program Director for College Success at ECMC Foundation. “ECMC Foundation wholeheartedly supports IEBC’s push for institutional change and reform through their Caring Campus model.”

Previous research has documented that students leave college because they do not feel connected to the institution (e.g., Leaving College by Tinto, 1993 and Relationship-Rich Education by Felten and Lambert, 2020). Newly released research findings from the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University report positive outcomes from the Caring Campus approach, including cultivating a sense of unity; enhancing staff knowledge; and increasing the potential to improve equity.

Caring Campus recognizes and leverages the value of connectedness to increase the likelihood that students will continue towards, and succeed in attaining, their educational goals. Faculty and staff interactions with students can set the stage for successful enrollment, persistence, and completion. It is particularly important for students from historically underserved populations and students less familiar with college to feel welcome and that they belong in college.

About ECMC Foundation (ECMC)

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