Single Stop USA’s Community College Initiative

Single Stop USA, a national not-for-profit, endeavors to help financially vulnerable families around the nation gain economic security by connecting them to safety net resources, tax credits, and direct social services. Single Stop’s Community College Initiative partners with community colleges to do this work, currently operating in 21 community college campuses in eight states with substantial governmental and philanthropic support. Its programmatic mission is simple—to help families achieve financial stability—but the approach is multifaceted. Combining social and educational services with technology, programmatic assistance, data and evaluation services, and managerial consulting expertise, Single Stop aims to create organizational shifts in the way community colleges approach student retention, thereby affecting outcomes of both students and schools.

This formative implementation assessment, the first in a series of evaluations conducted in response to the requirements of Single Stop’s first Social Innovation Fund award, focuses on the ways in which its programming has been implemented at eleven community colleges in four states: New York, Florida, Louisiana, and California. Through a comparative case study analysis, we examine how the program’s theory of change is translated into practice, how the model operates at the college level, the support and supervision provided to colleges by the Single Stop national office, the scope and characteristics of the services offered to and received by students, and the perceived quality and value of these services. Furthermore, we assess the implications of the findings in these domains for the quality of data that will later be used in quantitative analyses aimed at documenting the relationship between the receipt of Single Stop services and students’ access to services and educational outcomes, including annual re-enrollment and degree completion.

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