Today, community colleges serve nearly 11 million students. However, not enough low-income adults who enroll at a community college complete a credential that prepares them to find a decent-paying job or to transfer to a four-year institution.
Completion by Design is a five-year Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation signature initiative that works with community colleges to significantly increase completion and graduation rates for low-income students under 26. The Gates Foundation has awarded competitive grants to three groups of community colleges to help transform their students’ experience. The goal of Completion by Design is to substantially increase completion rates for these students while holding down costs and maintaining access and quality.
The initiative has three distinct phases following the selection of three grantees, or managing partners, by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in June 2011:
- The first phase of the initiative was a one-year planning period, during which participating community colleges examined their own data to identify loss points and design strategies to address them.
- The second phase is a two- to three-year implementation period, during which the colleges will implement strategies identified during the planning year.
- In the final phase, the colleges will address the policy implications of their work -- particularly at the state level -- while scaling up the project for national impact.