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Rigorous Impact Evaluations of Student Success Programs and Practices in Higher Education

Arnold Ventures
Opportunity Information:

Arnold Ventures (AV) is a nonpartisan philanthropy whose core mission is to invest in evidence-based solutions that maximize opportunity and minimize injustice. The Higher Education initiative seeks to identify and scale effective practices that improve student success and address equity gaps in higher education. Even as access to higher education has significantly expanded, we still struggle to help students complete their credentials and secure a strong return on their investments. Colleges need sound evidence to identify ways to support students’ financial, social, and academic needs. We support research to uncover the most effective programs and practices that will pave the way for success among all students, especially those underserved by the current system. In recent years, a number of high-quality, randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluations have identified several programs with the potential to substantially increase student success and address equity gaps. Arnold Ventures works to continue building the evidence base and to secure policies and investments to scale up what works.

This Request for Proposals—a joint effort of AV’s Higher Education and Evidence-Based Policy initiatives— seeks grant applications to conduct rigorous impact evaluations of programs and practices (“interventions”) to promote college success in the United States that fall into one of three tiers:

  • (i) The intervention is backed by promising prior evidence suggesting it could produce sizable impacts on important student success outcomes (e.g., student learning, persistence, degree or certificate completion, job placement, post-college earnings, and debt burden);
  • (ii) The intervention is widely adopted in practice, but has not yet been rigorously evaluated and its impacts on key student success outcomes are thus largely unknown; or
  • (iii) The intervention is growing in use and likely to become widely adopted, but has not yet been rigorously evaluated.

The ultimate goal in this effort is to build credible evidence about “what works” to improve student success outcomes and, in particular, to increase the number of interventions rigorously shown to produce important improvements in outcomes including but not limited to student learning, persistence, degree or certificate completion, job placement, post-college earnings, and debt burden. The field recognizes a few gold-standard programs such as ASAP and Bottom Line; however, we recognize the need to identify other effective interventions to support student success in higher education. For the purposes of this RFP, such interventions may be broadly defined and, for example, may include programs that target high school students or others not currently enrolled in college, so long as the proposed study will measure the outcomes of interest listed above.

For complete program guidelines and applications instructions, see the Arnold Ventures website

ASU Information:

Submissions to this sponsor/donor are managed by the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations. Please contact your unit-assigned ASUF Director of Development or Research Advancement Specialist at your earliest convenience to ensure ASU's strategic coordination and management of funding applications.

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