Catalytic Giving

Borough of Manhattan Community College Mentorship Program

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) is the largest community college in the City University of New York system with 27,000 degree-seeking students but with a three-year graduation rate of 22%. Our catalytic grant doubled the size of BMCC’s IMPACT Peer Mentoring program which recruits upperclassmen to serve as peer mentors for first-semester students. Mentors meet with mentees in person once a week and maintain regular contact several times a week to provide support in five areas: role-modeling, community building, success coaching, campus resources, and advocacy. Assessments conducted by BMCC’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Analytics show that the IMPACT Peer Mentoring program produces consistently higher retention and graduation rates for mentors and mentees as compared with similarly situated students not affiliated with these programs. For the most recent cohort, IMPACT mentees had a 3-year graduation rate of 30% compared with 19% of similar students not in the mentorship program as well as higher credit accumulation numbers in each semester tracked before graduation (e.g. 11.9 credits in the second year spring term, compared with 6.9 credits for similar students).

At BMCC, our highest priority is improving student success, not incrementally but dramatically. The College has done extensive research on the factors affecting the retention and graduation rates of our diverse student population. Both research and practice indicate that peer support has a substantial impact on student success, providing mentors with opportunities to view themselves as leaders and providing mentees with real-world examples of success, all while fostering growth-mindset approaches among both groups. We are grateful for the support of Heckscher as we work to bring to scale what works to improve student success, advancing equity in the process. 
Karrin E. Wilks, Interim President
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