Seven Community Colleges Selected for ‘Caring Campus Initiative’

Long Beach, Calif. –   Seven community colleges have been selected to participate in the 2021 “Caring Campus Initiative” led by the Institute for    Evidence-Based  Change   (IEBC).

Generous support from Ascendium Education Group has made possible the inclusion of these colleges whose programs will be focusing on Caring Campus and faculty. Three institutions, which are part of the City Colleges of Chicago system, join the Caring Campus initiative, focusing on faculty and their role in the classroom, and beyond, in increasing student success. Four of the colleges will embark on programs for faculty after completing programs for staff.

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.

Research has documented that students leave college because they do not feel connected to the institution (e.g., Leaving College by Tinto, 1993; Relationship-Rich Education by Felten & Lambert, 2020)). 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.

As limitations on in-person classes continue due to the coronavirus pandemic, providing student support under the Caring Campus model, which has been adjusted for the virtual delivery of instruction and student services, has become a vital tool in increasing retention and student success.

“This project realizes IEBC’s approach to improving student success and closing equity gaps,” said IEBC President and CEO Dr. Brad Phillips. “We hear a lot of words about meeting students where they are. Now meet them in new ways, facilitating and supporting behaviors that lead to student success.”

“We at IEBC know colleges work hard in ordinary times to ensure student success in many ways. With a new virtual focus driven by the original Caring Campus mission, colleges can continue to engage with students and succeed in helping them stay connected in extraordinary times as well,” said Phillips.

Community colleges new to the program are:

  • Kennedy-King College, Chicago, IL
  • Olive-Harvey College, Chicago, IL
  • Wilbur Wright College, Chicago, IL

Community colleges continuing with the program and now adding the faculty component after completing IEBC Caring Campus work with professional staff are:

  • Central Arizona College, Coolidge, AZ
  • San Antonio College, San Antonio, TX
  • Stark State, North Canton, OH
  • West Valley College, Saratoga, CA

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, students less familiar with college, non-majority students, students from low-income households, and first-generation students to feel welcome and that they belong in college.

This grant also supports IEBC’s work with the Community College Research Center (CCRC) to better understand how the initiative works to change college culture and improve student outcomes.

About Ascendium Education Group

Ascendium Education Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping people reach the education and career goals that matter to them. Ascendium invests in initiatives designed to increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds who complete postsecondary degrees, certificates and workforce training programs, with an emphasis on first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color and veterans. Ascendium’s work identifies, validates and expands best practices to promote large-scale change at the institutional, system and state levels, with the intention of elevating opportunity for all. For more information, visit