“I dreamed of becoming a nurse, but I did not think going to college would be an option for me because of my financial circumstances and having to help support my family,” shared Elgin Community College student Kristine Darvin. “Because I got the help I needed, I’m only one semester away from graduating with a degree I never thought was possible for me.”
As a student who struggled in high school, Darvin is now an honors student in the nursing program and will graduate in the fall of 2022. Darvin received support from the ECC Foundation Complete to Compete Program, which provided crucial financial support that ensured she could concentrate more on her studies and less on financial strains. The program targets near-completer students who are 15 or fewer credit hours away from completing a degree.
Students like Darvin are precisely who the ECC Foundation and its board of directors are committed to supporting. “We realized that to deploy limited donor resources as smartly as possible and in ways that would yield the best outcomes for our students, we needed more information,” said David Davin, executive director of institutional advancement and the ECC Foundation.
The foundation forged an innovative partnership with ECC’s Institutional Research Department to accomplish this strategic goal by harnessing the power of data. By digging deeper into areas such as course completion and graduation rates, financial need, and remaining credits needed, trends could be identified that indicated when gaps in funding or other obstacles could hinder students' degree completion. Armed with this predictive data, the foundation can now more proactively determine where best to direct financial resources that help eliminate potential barriers to success.
This process is also helping the ECC Foundation’s Student Success Fund (SSF), along with other scholarships, have even greater impacts on student success. Workforce development scholarships, for example, support additional skills training. To date, the SSF has provided more than $150,000 in direct financial assistance to more than 180 students.
Davin is optimistic about implementing a new Student Success cohort fund that will utilize predictive data, similar to components of the Complete to Compete program, to proactively award funds to students when they enter a program. “The goal is to increase the number of credit hours students are able to take, ultimately helping increase graduation rates within a faster timeline than would have been possible without this targeted funding,” said Davin.
Being informed of the scholarship funds available has been transformative for Darvin. “I wouldn't have made it this far if I was always worried about the financial aspects of college,” she said. “Because others cared about students like me and invested in my future, I haven’t had to worry about how to pay for my tuition, and I was able to focus solely on my goal. In the future, I would like to be part of those who give to the ECC Foundation and help out students like me who just need a little financial push to continue their college journey.”
Visit the ECC Foundation page to learn more about available scholarships.