In the face of significant COVID-19 challenges, the Cristo Rey Network is developing and scaling innovative resources and tools to not only sustain but increase college enrollment and completion. The capacity for our schools’ alumni advisors to communicate with and track the progress and achievement of our 6,100 college enrollees has been amplified by our new customized alumni support platform, Gradforce. Through an implementation grant from the Crimsonbridge Foundation, coupled with College Initiatives programming support from the Wilson Sheehan Foundation, 28 of our school teams are using Gradforce. The portal has already enabled 62,000 texts and 69,000 emails sent between Alumni Advisors and alumni to communicate critical COVID-19 information, scholarship opportunities, and FAFSA and re-enrollment support.
Gradforce allows us to increase the efficiency of Alumni Advisors’ work, freeing them up to analyze persistence and completion data, prioritize their caseload around financial, academic, social emotional needs, and create a feedback loop with college counselors to ensure seniors are applying and committing to best-fit colleges,” remarked Stephanie Arias, Cristo Rey Network Director of College Initiatives. “By maximizing the impact that Alumni Advisors can have on their students and their college counseling peers, Gradforce is helping us to move the needle on college completion, one student at a time.”
While the College Initiatives team onboards and trains school users, we continue to gather feedback from Gradforce users to further refine workflow efficiency to increase college enrollee persistence.
While college access is a national movement, college persistence and graduation efforts remain largely unchartered,” said Bianca Paiz, Cristo Rey Network Associate Director of College Initiatives. “Counseling best practices and tools that target the successful integration and retention of underrepresented college students remain woefully underdeveloped; therefore, philanthropic investment in these initiatives allows us to not only take local best practices and expand their geographic footprint but also continue to remain innovative and adaptive to the changing needs of the students we serve.”
Cristo Rey graduates are 2x more likely to complete a bachelor's degree by age 24, compared to the total U.S. low-income population.