MDRC Launches the Expanding SUCCESS Initiative to Address Inequities in College Completion


MDRC is pleased to announce the launch of the Expanding SUCCESS Initiative, an ambitious effort to narrow and ultimately eliminate inequities in college completion and economic mobility rates for students of color and students from low-income families.

Many studies demonstrate that attaining a postsecondary degree leads to higher wages and greater economic mobility. However, students of color and students from families with low incomes face considerable barriers to college completion—and the pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges.

Expanding SUCCESS builds on MDRC’s Scaling Up College Completion Efforts for Student Success (SUCCESS), a project started in 2019 that has partnered with 13 colleges in five states—California, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Ohio—and their state higher education agencies to develop and implement financially sustainable student support programs.

SUCCESS programs are built around elements derived from nearly two decades of postsecondary research conducted by MDRC and others. These program components include frequent proactive advisingfinancial incentives tied to service usage; strategies focused on increasing academic momentum (like requiring full-time enrollment or encouraging summer/winter enrollment); and the use of real-time data to support student progress.

In Expanding SUCCESS, MDRC will collaborate with states and higher education systems that have the largest numbers of students of color to scale SUCCESS in their community colleges. MDRC is conducting impact, implementation, cost analysis research in 11 of the colleges currently operating SUCCESS programs, which will inform the Expanding SUCCESS Initiative. Expanding SUCCESS is supported by The Studio @ Blue Meridian, which supports social sector organizations to accelerate their readiness to significantly scale their reach, impact, and influence.

“One of the most important public policy challenges of our time is to make the promise of postsecondary education real by supporting students to complete their degrees,” said Virginia Knox, President of MDRC. “With Expanding SUCCESS, we are thrilled to be able to help states and college systems scale an evidence-backed student support program to help many more students of color and students with low incomes.”

For more information about Expanding SUCCESS, contact