Results and Best Practices

College Achievement Alliance’s work is being used in colleges and universities across the United States to help institutions improve retention and completion and meet other organizational and community goals.

Our clients measure their results through qualitative or quantitative research methodologies—inventories, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, observational studies, exit studies—according to program needs.

Much of the early work in higher education utilized Bridges Out of Poverty resources. These included Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World, the program for individuals in poverty that preceded Investigations into Economic Class in America for under-resourced college students. For information on assessing implementation of the Bridges/Getting Ahead Sustainability Model, click on the links below. These methods and instruments may serve to guide evaluation at the college level.

If you’d like to get sustained results, contact us to tailor a program for your institution’s needs. Call (800) 424-9484 or email

Here are some sample results and best practices. Please note that many client initiatives are in the early stages and results are not yet available.

Arkansas Department of Higher Education.  Initiated Bridges to Sustainable Communities through College Leadership. Three Arkansas communities were chosen as pilot sites for this initiative building on collaborations between the college and all stakeholders of the community.

Ivy Tech Community College – North Central (Indiana): Offered Getting Ahead and Investigations for five years (10 semesters) as a noncredit course to students, employees, and community members. Of the 31 students who completed Getting Ahead/Investigations during the first three years (six semesters), 32% improved their GPA, 46% were on track to complete their degree in less than three years, and two graduated. Several community participants enrolled in the college.

Walla Walla Community College (Washington): The Bridge the Gap Project provided best practice training, curriculum and community support to students from under-resourced backgrounds to help them successfully navigate systems of higher learning. Community college faculty and staff were also provided with opportunities to enhance understanding of low-income students and improve retention rates. At the conclusion of the two-year program, data showed a 23% greater annual retention rate in Year 1 and 15% greater in Year 2 for students enrolled in Investigations into Economic Class in America as compared to those enrolled in the traditional studies skills class.

Kent State University – Salem (Ohio): Delivered four 30-hour, open-enrollment Getting Ahead groups for TANF-eligible individuals. Fifty-seven participants successfully completed the program and made a plan to build resources. In follow-up interviews and surveys, respondents reported progress on developing resources ranging from “a little progress” (spiritual resource) to “good progress” (integrity/trust resource), with “some progress” on the financial resource, one of the key resources identified by respondents.

Youngstown State University (Ohio): Led a coalition of schools, workforce development agencies, and healthcare employer partners in the development of a career pathway project designed to assist low-wage, low-skill adults to enter and advance in health-related occupations. More than 300 individuals participated in 15 groups held in schools, employer work sites, and a women’s shelter. A post-program survey of 153 respondents found that the percentage of respondents employed full-time had increased from 31% to 76%.

Youngstown State University (Ohio): Has used Investigations since Spring 2009 as part of a one-semester, four-course learning community program (LCP) for incoming health occupations students who test into all three developmental courses (math, reading, and composition). The program is evaluated based on semester-to-semester and year-to-year retention of the LCP group compared with all incoming freshmen taking all three developmental courses. Data are disaggregated by race/ethnicity (minority and non-minority). Except for one cohort, both minority and non-minority students participating in the LCP persisted at a higher rate than those who did not participate in the LCP, with results stronger for minority students.

East High School (Youngstown, Ohio): Collaborated with Youngstown State University to implement the first high school learning community in the nation to focus on economic class issues and the impact of poverty on individuals. Investigations was embedded into a yearlong social studies course. Students earned dual college and high school credit for completing the course.