Venture Philanthropy / Catalytic Giving

Single Stop USA Community College Initiative

More than half of low-income students begin their postsecondary education at a community college, and these institutions serve more than 12 million students each year. However, six years after starting at a two-year institution, nearly half of all students nationwide (46%) drop out without attaining a degree. Only 31% of community college students who set out to earn a degree ever complete it. These low retention and completion rates are not surprising given the many obstacles community college students confront.

Since access to basic resources increases the likelihood that a young person will be able to stay in college and obtain a degree that leads to higher earning potential, the foundation instigated and funded the first-of-its-kind Single Stop USA Community College Initiative to expand opportunities for low-income, high-need community college students. The initiative connects students to the government funds and services for which they are eligible, including food stamps, health care, child care, and tax credits. Participants also receive free tax preparation services, comprehensive legal services, and financial counseling.

The initiative was piloted through a model program at Kingsborough Community College, which reduced dropout rates among participants by 50%.

As a result of our founding support and these strong outcomes, other foundations and the City of New York adopted the program, and it is now available to eligible students across the City University of New York (CUNY) system. Single Stop USA also built system-wide collaborations with other community colleges and networks including the Association of Community College Trustees, the City College of San Francisco, and Miami Dade College.