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Helios Education Foundation Provides $1.5 Million Toward Hillsborough Community College's Performance-Based Math Program

Posted on: October 25, 2010

Helios Education Foundation in partnership with Hillsborough Community College (HCC), MDRC and the Open Society Foundations recently announced the launch of the largest scholarship partnership in the college's history at an event at the HCC Dale Mabry Campus. Along with Paul Luna, president of Helios Education Foundation, Mimi Corcoran, director, Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation at the Open Society Foundations, and Gordon L. Berlin, president of MDRC, HCC President Dr. Ken Atwater announced the details of a four-year performance-based scholarship demonstration designed to help 750 low-income students succeed in math. Helios Education Foundation and the Open Society Foundations have contributed a total of $2.3 million to this initiative, with HCC receiving $1.5 million.

One of the primary obstacles to college success and persistence nationally is that many students arrive at college unprepared to do college-level work and are required to take developmental (remedial) courses. At Hillsborough Community College, over 75 percent of incoming new students test into developmental math. The College has confirmed that avoiding or failing remedial math is one of the principal reasons why students drop or stop out of HCC without a degree or certificate. These barriers to student completion are further compounded by other factors including inadequate financial aid and low participation in academic support services.

In the spring of 2010, HCC was invited to begin working with MDRC, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, to develop innovative interventions designed to increase attainment levels in math, to improve completion rates of students who start out in developmental math, and to serve as a model for other community colleges. This pilot program led to a four-year demonstration with Helios Education Foundation funding the bulk of the program and scholarship costs and the Open Society Foundations providing funding for technical assistance, evaluation, dissemination, and scholarships. This unique partnership between a regional and national foundation is providing a vital scholarship opportunity to needy students, while building evidence on the effectiveness of this novel idea. The funding will be used to support performance-based scholarships and math tutoring services to 750 low-income students who take and succeed in a sequence of three math courses culminating in college-level math and to assist these students in filling some of their unmet financial need.

The HCC program is part of a broader multi-college demonstration designed to test variations of this scholarship idea to build stronger evidence on what works to improve college success rates. Besides the HCC program, the national demonstration project includes colleges in Arizona, California, New Mexico, New York, and Ohio.

According to College President Dr. Ken Atwater, "The College is excited for this opportunity because of the potential to impact the success rate of our students who struggle in developmental mathematics and for its significance in affecting what is a national problem."

Category: Postsecondary Completion

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