ECMC Foundation Invests in Online College Access and Success Training
On Nov. 1, with the support of a two-year, $400,000 grant from ECMC Foundation, NCAN began expanding its e-learning program, Fundamentals for College Access & Success Providers. The low-cost, online program provides college advisors key college access and success knowledge and skills, allowing them to better support low-income students and families on their journey to and through postsecondary education. The program is currently free to NCAN members.
"Nationally, only 8 percent of students from low-income families complete a four-year college degree by age 24, compared to 73 percent of students from high-income families," NCAN Executive Director Kim Cook said. "But when nonprofit organizations and schools provide specialized early awareness information, pre-college advising on admissions and financial aid, and mentoring, college entrance and completion rates for low-income students rise dramatically. NCAN's e-learning program makes it easier for organizations to train more employees and volunteers in these practices."
Each unit is 30 to 90 minutes long and available online, on demand. Topics include basics such as "Admissions Advising for First-Generation College Students" and "FAFSA Completion 101," as well as more specialized information such as "Using Award Letters to Assess Affordability" and "Serving Foster Youth."
NCAN partners with recognized field leaders to write the content, including College Now Greater Cleveland, College Success Foundation, and uAspire. Most content is designed for individuals who are new to college access advising, although some topics are appropriate for experienced advisers. NCAN built the e-learning program in 2014-15 with initial financial support from the Houston Endowment and product development consulting from Deloitte.
ECMC Foundation's support allows NCAN to add additional units, improve the user experience, and market the program within and outside the NCAN membership. "This grant aligns with our values of making long-term investments and supporting strategies that can be scaled to benefit large numbers of students," said Sarah Belnick, Program Director of College Success at ECMC Foundation. "An expansion of NCAN's low-cost online program will help many more youth-serving professionals to learn the key concepts and skills necessary to help more underrepresented students prepare to succeed in postsecondary education."
E-learning units remain free to NCAN members through the 2016-17 school year, and NCAN is committed to designing a future pricing structure that keeps costs low and within reach of the nonprofit community.
"When combined with other in-person or on-the-job training, e-learning units are an efficient way to help new college access advisers and other educators learn what they need to know," NCAN's Director of Technical Assistance MorraLee Keller said. "Currently, college access programs use a combination of in-house resources, webinars, or in-person workshops, all of which involve relatively greater time and expense. There are some graduate courses available, a few even online, but their cost and significant time commitment can make them impractical for people serving low-income students. NCAN's e-learning program puts one more option in the toolkit for everyone interested in reaching more students."