Supporting Community College Completion with a Culture of Caring: A Case Study of Amarillo College

This project expands on the case study Funded by the Trellis Foundation focuses on Amarillo College’s Advocacy & Resource Center. The study was designed to answer the question –Does Building an ARC Ensure Academic Success and Academic Attainment? 

The case study highlighted two key components of Amarillo College’s No Excuses Poverty Initiative:

  1. Eradicating a student’s poverty barriers leads to academic success
  2. Education is the path to economic revitalization. It also made key recommendations to further our work in eradicating student poverty barriers and increasing educational attainment for today’s community college students. Those recommendations have helped inform the design of this project.

Community colleges offer support services but cannot guarantee students will use them. Despite the large number of campus programs benefiting students, many students do not apply to access these services, whether that is from a lack of information, need, or interest. Students, like those that use Amarillo College’s Advocacy & Resource Center, are typically different in important but often unobservable ways. Ways that can affect a student’s chance of completing (e.g. they are more motivated, more likely to seek help or feel less stigmatized, etc.). Amarillo College and The Hope Center are evaluating the Advocacy & Resource Center (ARC) using a randomized encouragement design in which students are selected at random to assign additional information and encouragement about the ARC delivered via text message and email. Information will target students whom Amarillo College staff feel can benefit from the ARC. To date, Amarillo College has only targeted a limited number of students with additional encouragement to go to the ARC, but when it has done so, it has been very effective— the vast majority of students come in. This project expands that effort to include a larger group of randomly selected students.