Completion by Design

Community colleges nationwide serve over 10 million students. However, not enough community college students complete a credential or degree, or transfer to a four-year institution.

Completion by Design was a five-year Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiative that works with community colleges in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio to significantly increase completion and graduation rates for students, particularly those from low-income families.

WestEd provided the Completion by Design Initiative with:

  • A planning guide that summarizes key design principles for improving community college completion rates and a companion self-inquiry guide to help community colleges examine their own areas of strength and their emphasis on increasing student academic success.
  • An interactive online Knowledge Center, a searchable database containing expert-identified and vetted research and planning documents to support grantees through the planning, decision-making, and implementation stages as they undertake collegewide reform.
  • The Knowledge Center also included two memoranda written for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on what is known from research and practice about aligning K-12 and community colleges efforts and the use of technology to expand support services to a larger number of students.
  • A jointly published report, Connection by Design, authored by WestEd and Public Agenda, that uses student focus group data to discuss how colleges can more effectively provide students with the services they need to complete a credential.
  • A series of practitioner guides titled Game Changers on specific community college reform strategies. The guides synthesize research, document innovative models nationally, and highlight lessons from practitioner interviews about implementation challenges and opportunities. Each guide also includes an engagement section with a series of questions that can be used to start discussions with faculty and staff about specific reform strategies. The topics included in the series are: