National College Access Network

Shared Approaches for Successful Outcomes

Posted on August 7, 2017

This paper summarizes the findings of case studies of four organizations participating in the National College Access Network’s (NCAN) Benchmarking Project. Drawing on the expertise of nearly 400 member organizations throughout the U.S., NCAN focuses on improving the quality and quantity of support that students from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in higher education, receive to apply to, enter, and succeed in college. To achieve this goal, NCAN provides members with professional development, networking opportunities, and other resources, including webinars, online tools such as guidebooks, and support for new initiatives.

The purpose of NCAN’s Benchmarking Project is to develop an understanding of the college enrollment and completion rates of students served by its member organizations. Launched in 2013 with support from The Kresge Foundation, the project helps organizations answer the question, “To what extent are students we serve achieving their goal of a college degree?” With over 60 participating organizations in its most recent round, the Benchmarking Project has produced three reports summarizing empirical data on the collective impact of NCAN members.i Now in its fourth year, the data show that member organizations’ students continue to enroll in college and attain degrees at higher rates than underserved students in general. NCAN member-served students have a 69.7-percent postsecondary enrollment rate and a 51.3-percent six-year completion rate. The national comparison rates for similar students are 60 and 31 percent, respectively.ii At the same time, the data indicate that significant gaps exist between underserved students and students generally, meaning that the need for the services provided by NCAN members is still great.

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