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Completion Counts – An Inland Empire Initiative to Increase Graduation Rates

General

Themes: Collaboration between Community College, High School, City, County, School District, Chamber of Commerce and Non-Profit Organizations

Completion Counts (college311.org) is a partnership between Riverside City College, Alvord and Riverside Unified School District, the University of California Riverside, County of Riverside, the City of Riverside, the Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce, the Riverside Community Foundation Serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, and the Federation for a Competitive Economy.

Completion Counts is the Riverside partnership to raise college graduation rates by 2020. Completion Counts’ action plan is critical in strengthening Riverside’s regional competitiveness and our long-term economic growth. Through collaborative efforts, participating partners and the community are confident that they will raise college graduation rates among Riverside youth. The goal is to raise both high school and college graduation rates in the city. Through Completion Counts, Riverside City College (RCC) is now providing a two-year completion guarantee for eligible graduates of Alvord and Riverside Unified School Districts starting with the Class of 2012. Completion Counts offers early registration for courses at Riverside City College, access to English and Math courses starting the first term until a student’s requirements are met, access to 15.0 units each term based on a Student Education Plan, two-year Student Education Plan (SEP) created with a Riverside City College counselor and follow-up student support services during each term.

Leadership for the initiative is organized through the Completion Counts Executive Committee. The committee consists of the leadership from former Mayor of Riverside, Ron Loveridge, former Alvord Unified School District Superintendent, Dr. Nick Ferguson, former Riverside Unified School District Superintendent, Dr. Rick Miller, Riverside City College President, Dr. Cynthia Azari, Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce President/CEO Cindy Roth, and Mayor of Riverside, Rusty Bailey.

Together, Completion Counts partners have been able to successfully execute the program. The initiative is funded by a $3 million grant awarded in September 2010 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to raise both high school and college graduation rates in Riverside by 2020. The Riverside community strongly believes the best jobs and fastest growing industries will gravitate to communities and regions with a highly qualified workforce. Providing Riverside youth with the opportunity to go to college is critically important, and cannot stop there. Riverside needs students to graduate from college and vested partners are collaborating to make that happen.

Riverside City College enrollment rate has steadily increased over the past few years. However, the amounts of classes available have decreased due to state budget cuts in the Community College system. As a result, college students were finding it extremely difficult to enroll in the necessary classes to either complete a degree or transfer to a four-year institution. Seeing the supply of courses was not sufficient to meet the demand, Riverside City College initiated Completion Counts.

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