CCNY’s Office for Experiential Learning and Colin Powell School receive $7.3M federal education grant to enhance first-year student experience

The City College of New York has been awarded a four-year, $7.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support new student onboarding initiatives in the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. The grant was secured by CCNY’s Office for Experiential Learning.

The grant program, WELCOME: Welcoming Experiences and Learning Communities to Maximize Early Success, is modeled on the Opening Doors Learning Program at CUNY’s Kingsborough Community College. It is led by Senior Associate Provost Doris Cintrón and also includes Andrew Rich, the Richard J. Henley and Susan L. Davis Dean of the Colin Powell School; Dr. Francesca Anselmi, director of the Office for Experiential Learning; and the director of the Colin Powell School Office for Student Success, Dr. Debbie Cheng.

Students will participate in WELCOME cohorts of twenty-five students each that will work together as a learning community through existing but currently separate first year courses (Bridges to Success and Freshman Inquiry Writing Seminar), and on an additional course in their chosen major. By enhancing advising, tutoring and financial support services, the grant helps to overcome obstacles that may hinder student success.

WELCOME will use this model to restructure and expand existing programs for first-year students at the Colin Powell School, evaluating best practices through an experimental study approach in collaboration with the Center for Technology and School Change at Teachers College, Columbia University.

The program will serve 500 students in fall 2024. Once fully operational, WELCOME is expected to engage 2,600 students over four years. The program aims to improve and increase retention and graduation rates, particularly among students of color, and first generation and low-income students.

“The evidence about the return on an early investment in student success is overwhelming,” said Dean Rich. “The WELCOME initiative will enable us to scale efforts in the Colin Powell School that have already been proven to equip students to take fuller advantage of the college experience, to develop a stronger sense of belonging and connection to one another, and to finish their degrees more quickly and at a higher rate. This investment has the potential to be transformative for the Colin Powell School student experience.”

“We welcome this opportunity to deepen our collective understanding of how investments in early student experiences enhance long term college success, including retention, graduation, and professional success,” said Senior Associate Provost Cintron. “We are looking forward to institutionalizing best practices and exporting the WELCOME experience to other schools and divisions at City College, and we are grateful for this opportunity to enhance our efforts in cultivating the amazing talent of our students.”

About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high-quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its position at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility index. This measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. Education research organization Degree Choices ranks CCNY #1 nationally among universities for economic return on investment. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.8% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. Labor analytics firm Emsi (now Lightcast) puts at $1.9 billion CCNY’s annual economic impact on the regional economy (5 boroughs and 5 adjacent counties) and quantifies the “for dollar” return on investment to students, taxpayers and society. At City College, more than 15,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. This year, CCNY launched its most expansive fundraising campaign, ever. The campaign, titled “Doing Remarkable Things Together” seeks to bring the College’s Foundation to more than $1 billion in total assets in support of the College mission. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.

Syd Steinhardt