An Introduction to the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration

October, 2009
Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Paulette Cha, Monica Cuevas, Amanda Grossman, Reshma Patel, Colleen Sommo

This policy brief describes a demonstration launched by MDRC in four states in 2008 to evaluate whether performance-based scholarships — paid contingent on attaining academic benchmarks — are an effective way to improve persistence and academic success among low-income college students. The demonstration builds on positive results from an earlier MDRC study in Louisiana.


A Synthesis of Findings from an Evaluation at Six Community Colleges

March, 2011
Susan Scrivener, Erin Coghlan

MDRC’s Opening Doors Demonstration, launched in 2003 with six community colleges, provides some of the first rigorous evidence that a range of interventions can improve educational outcomes for community college students. This 12-page policy brief describes the strategies tested, discusses the results, and offers suggestions to policymakers and practitioners for moving forward.

Working Paper

Lessons from Research on Welfare Training Programs and Two Promising Community College Strategies

February, 2008
Lashawn Richburg-Hayes

This working paper, prepared for a conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, reviews what is known about education acquisition by low-wage workers and highlights promising strategies being tested at several community colleges.


Early Results from the Opening Doors Demonstration in Ohio

April, 2007
Susan Scrivener, Michael Pih

This report presents the early results from MDRC’s evaluation of the Opening Doors program at Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio. The two-semester program offered intensive student advising services and a modest scholarship to low-income students to encourage them to stay in school and earn credentials.


Instructional Innovations That Help Low-Income Students Succeed in Community College

July, 2003
Richard Kazis, Marty Liebowitz

This paper looks at curricular and program redesign strategies currently used by community colleges to speed nontraditional students’ advancement from lower levels of skill into credential programs and to shorten the time commitment required to earn a credential.

For many low-income college students, one of the biggest barriers to attendance is cost. While federal and state financial aid is available to help with tuition, fees, books, and some living expenses, students still often have unmet need, particularly if they are from the poorest families or are independent from their parents. Working while going to school is one...

Community colleges, which tend to be accessible and affordable, serve as a critical resource for low-income individuals striving to improve their prospects in the labor market and life. However, a variety of factors, ranging from a lack of financial aid to inadequate student services and poor developmental classes, can impede students’ progress. Many students stop...