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Green River Community College Receives Gates Foundation Grant to help students succeed

For Immediate Release

November 21, 2014

Contact: Catherine Ushka, Marketing and Communications Manager
(253) 288-3323

(Auburn) Green River Community College announced today that it received a two-year grant of approximately $270,000 as part of a grant to the Puget Sound Coalition for College and Career Readiness from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

These funds will provide direct services to help Green River Community College students to meet their academic and professional goals.

The Puget Sound Coalition for College and Career Readiness is comprised of seven community and technical colleges, as well as K-12 school districts and collaborative partners. Over two years, the Coalition will assist member colleges to directly intervene with students and to revise their policies and procedures to improve students' rates of post-secondary credential completion and university transfer.

As part of the grant, Completion Coaches will be deployed at Green River Community College and the Seattle College District's three campuses: North Seattle, Seattle Central and South Seattle.

Completion Coaches will focus on currently or recently enrolled students who are close to finishing post-secondary credentials or transferring to universities, but whose progress has stalled. Services will be prioritized for underrepresented minority and low-income students.

Completion Coaches have been successfully used at Walla Walla Community College, winner of the 2013 Aspen Institute Prize for Community College Excellence.

''We are excited to be part of the Puget Sound Coalition for College and Career Readiness and we thank the Gates Foundation for supporting this important work,'' said Dr. Eileen Ely, president of Green River Community College.

''Our students come from all walks of life and face a variety of challenges to achieving academic and professional success. We have dedicated staff and faculty who help our students accomplish their goals. This grant will enable us to better target our efforts to help our students achieve their academic goals.''

The grant addresses a recognized need in the community college system. By 2018, two in three jobs in Washington State are expected to require a postsecondary credential. However, in recent years, community college completion rates have remained low. Nationally, only 23 percent of first-time, full-time community college students earn degrees within three years. If short-term certificates and university transfers without credentials are included, nearly half of community college students fail to complete their studies.

Data gathered at Green River Community College demonstrates that non-completers are 7 percent more likely to be students of color and/or female. They are generally younger, compared to the overall student body. Over half of non-completers earn at least 90 credits, and 76 percent of these credits are college-level and thus applicable toward completion.