Wake Tech Students to Benefit from Gates Foundation Grant

December 18th, 2012


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“Completion by Design” Project Designed to Boost Graduation Rates

RALEIGH, N.C. (December 18, 2012) - Wake Tech Community College is getting help from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve graduation rates. Wake Tech is one of five North Carolina community colleges who will share a $4.3 million grant award as part of a national initiative called Completion by Design. The initiative is designed to help more young people finish college with a degree, certificate or other credential. The other North Carolina community colleges participating are Guilford Tech, Central Piedmont, Martin and Davidson. They were selected because of their innovative ideas and approaches for improving completion rates on their campuses. Colleges in Florida and Ohio are also participating in the project.                              

“Wake Tech is excited to be part of this very important collaborative effort,” says President Dr. Stephen C. Scott. “We know that completion is absolutely critical for moving forward successfully – whether that’s to employment, additional higher education, or a combination of the two.”

Completion by Design is a five-year initiative that works with community colleges to increase substantially the completion and graduation rates of low-income students, while holding down costs and maintaining quality and accessibility.  

The initiative builds on proven practices pulled from forward-thinking community colleges that are addressing the needs of today’s students. These colleges focus on fresh approaches to financial aid counseling, course scheduling, advising, and other student support services.

Community colleges serve nearly 11 million students today, but not enough of the low-income adults who enroll actually complete a credential that prepares them for a good job (or for transfer to a four-year institution). According to recent federal data, just 22 percent of all first-time, full-time students in community colleges graduate in three years. For Hispanic and African-American students, the rates are even lower, at 17 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

In May 2011, the five colleges began developing a comprehensive student pathway with the support of a $459,000 planning grant. Wake Tech focused on a college-wide transformation to create a culture with the priority on student completion. The college is utilizing data-based decision-making processes to gauge student progress toward completion. For Wake Tech, Completion by Design complements the Gates-funded Partners for Postsecondary Success initiative within the City of Raleigh.

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