Catholic Charities launches program in partnership
with Community College of Baltimore County

(May 24, 2019, Baltimore, MD.) Graduating from a community college is often a pathway out of poverty for low-income students. However, many students fail to graduate because of day-to-day barriers such as transportation costs or childcare. In fact, nationally, fewer than 40 percent of community college students obtain a degree within six years, according to research conducted by the University of Notre Dame.

In an effort to reverse this trend, Catholic Charities of Baltimore is launching Stay the Course™ in partnership with the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC). Through this program,  students will be paired with trained navigators who will help address barriers to their completion of a degree or certificate.

“We appreciate the opportunity to establish this working relationship with Catholic Charities and look forward to working collaboratively to assist community college students with navigating personal and institutional obstacles that impact their academic success,” said College President Sandra Kurtintis.

“These young students are often the first in their family to pursue a higher degree. They need guidance on how to efficiently navigate college life and personal barriers, and to graduate,” said Sue DeSantis, an administrator of Catholic Charities of Baltimore’s Stay the Course™.

Stay the Course™ originated in 2013 by Catholic Charities of Fort Worth, Texas, in partnership with Notre Dame’s research program called the Lab for Economic Opportunities. Research showed that financial support is not enough to ensure that students graduate on time. Over three years, students who participated in the full Stay the Course program were significantly more likely to stay enrolled and graduate within six semesters. “It was clear that these students also needed to work with a navigator who understood their needs,” DeSantis added.

Over three consecutive semesters, Catholic Charities of Baltimore and the Community College of Baltimore County will recruit 120 students to participate in the Stay the Course program for up to four years. Each student will work with an assigned navigator who will offer case management. They will also receive access to limited emergency financial assistance. These students will be tracked as part of the research program.

Another randomly selected group of 120 students will be the control group, receiving fewer supports. LEO and Catholic Charities of Fort Worth will track the impact of Stay the Course programs as they are replicated across the United States.

“We’re currently facing a completion crisis in the U.S. There is a real need for cost-effective interventions,” said Jim Sullivan co-founder of LEO. “Stay the Course is an example that has been shown to move the needle.”

Background: Stay the Course™ originated in 2013 at the Catholic Charities of Fort Worth following research conducted by the University of Notre Dame’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) along with the University of Maryland that demonstrated graduation rates for low-income students increased if they were paired with trained navigators. Recognizing its success in Texas, the Catholic Charites of Fort Worth is providing grants to five Catholic Charities across the United States including Catholic Charities of Baltimore to duplicate the program and support initiatives to foster an increase in the number of low-income students graduating from community college.

Catholic Charities of Baltimore is Maryland’s largest private provider of human services, with more than 80 programs in 200 locations serving children and families experiencing homelessness and poverty, individuals with intellectual disabilities, immigrants, and seniors without regard to religion, race or other circumstances.

Contact: Rena Daly, Media Relations Manager, 667-600-2007 cell 646-263-6384