Completion by Design is a five-year Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiative that started in 2011. This initiative works with a selected set of community colleges to significantly increase their completion and graduation rates. CBD helps community colleges boost completion rates for most students, by focusing on comprehensive institutional transformation at scale. Groups of community colleges in three states – Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio – are engaged in a systematic process of inquiry and design, aimed at systemic changes in policies, programs, and practices that strengthen pathways to completion for most students on their campuses.
CBD contributes to the college completion movement in two ways:
- CBD helps colleges design connected solutions across students’ entire educational experiences—from the day they first step on campus to the day they earn their degree or credential.
- CBD creates conditions that allow for this holistic approach by directly addressing a spectrum of organizational, cultural and administrative factors that can make or break a serious effort to reform.
The Preventing Loss, Creating Momentum Framework further illustrates this approach to increasing community college completion rates. The Framework outlines the student experience from their first connection with college to their college completion. The Framework identifies the major points where colleges often lose students and the strategies that create momentum towards student completion. Click here for more information on the Framework.
Pathway Design Principles are eight design principles drawn from research, practice, and participating colleges’ experience during the planning phase. While there is no single model for a completion pathway – defined as an integrated set of institutional policies, practices, and programs intended to maximize students’ likelihood of completing a credential – these principles can help inform the choices colleges make when designing their pathways. Creating systemic change requires attention to these principles, but colleges must strategically implement them based on their local context and students’ needs. Download the Pathway Design Principles (Revised March 2012)
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has selected cadres of colleges in three states. They are:
- Managing Partner: Miami Dade College, Miami, Florida
- Hialeah Campus
- Homestead Campus
- InterAmerican Campus
- Kendall Campus
- Medical Center Campus
- North Campus
- MDC West
- Wolfson Campus
- Policy Lead: Florida College System
- Managing Partner: Guilford Technical Community College, Guilford County, North Carolina
- Central Piedmont Community College, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
- Davidson County Community College, Davidson and Davie Counties, North Carolina
- Martin Community College, Martin County, North Carolina
- Wake Technical Community College, Wake County, North Carolina
- Policy Lead: North Carolina Community College System
- Managing Partner: Sinclair Community College, Dayton and Courseview Campuses, Dayton and Mason, Ohio
- Lorain County Community College, Elyria, Ohio
- Stark State College, North Canton, Ohio
- Policy Lead: Ohio Association of Community College
Completion by Design is a five-year initiative with three distinct phases:
- The first phase of the initiative was a one-year planning period, during which participating community colleges examined their own data to identify when and why they are losing students, and design strategies to keep students enrolled and moving toward completion.
- 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.
Although the initiative will not be funding additions to its current list of colleges, there are many ways your community college can be part of the Completion by Design process.
Each managing partner will convene meetings of community colleges in their state to share findings and strategies. If your community college is located in Florida, Ohio or North Carolina , we strongly encourage you to attend these convenings.
Coming soon under Our Approach, we will be collecting key resources and tools for you to start using in your own community college to further your institutional transformation efforts. We will be highlighting:
- how to build and manage your transformation team
- how to use data to diagnose your loss and momentum points
- how to develop and prioritize different approaches to the problems/opportunities
- how to create an executionary, measurable plan
Finally, feel free to explore our Knowledge Center. This searchable database contains expert-identified and vetted research and planning documents covering a range of subject matter pertaining to students' success and completion.
Other National Efforts and Resources
- President Obama’s Graduation Initiative In 2009 President Obama announced the American Graduation Initiative, a landmark proposal to provide new federal support for community colleges. Learn more about the initiative.
- Achieving the Dream Achieving the Dream is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree.
- Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence The Aspen Prize recognizes community colleges with outstanding academic and workforce outcomes in both absolute performance and improvements over time. It focuses on student success and lifting up models that work to honor excellence, stimulate innovation, and create benchmarks for measuring progress.
- College Completion Agenda The College Completion Agenda was developed by the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center to provide reliable, measurable information that tracks the collective progress, as well as policymaking strategies each state can use to help students reach college completion.
- Complete College America Complete College America is devoted to working with states to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.
- Complete to Compete Complete to Compete is an initiative of the National Governor's Association, dedicated to working with higher education executive officers, and campus leaders to make marked improvements in college completion and productivity.
- The Completion Arch The Completion Arch is a web based tool that provides quick and easy access to national, state and initiative-level data that describe the progress and success of community college students.
- Completion Matters Completion Matters is a knowledge and learning community focused on two- and four-year college completion. With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME, www.iskme.org) facilitates this online collaboration site.