Enhancing College Promise Programs to Support Student Success

Groups of students in school cafeteria

College Promise is a widespread college access movement in the United States. There are now more than 200 college promise or free college programs across the country. Although these programs help students access college by covering the cost of tuition and fees, they do not typically address barriers to student success once students have enrolled.

The Detroit Promise is a scholarship program administered by the Detroit Regional Chamber that allows students to attend local colleges tuition-free. Although the program has helped students enroll in college by reducing financial barriers, many continued to drop out before they graduate. To address the issue of low completion rates, the Detroit Regional Chamber partnered with MDRC to create Detroit Promise Path, which adds evidence-based support strategies, including coaching and financial incentives, to Detroit’s existing scholarship program.  

Early results from MDRC’s evaluation of Detroit Promise Path show that the program increased full-time enrollment and persistence into the second semester.

Join Katie Beal as she talks to Alyssa Ratledge, a researcher at MDRC, and Monica Rodriguez, who manages Detroit Promise Path for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Detroit Promise Path is administered by the Detroit Regional Chamber and funded by the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation.


About Evidence First

Policymakers talk about solutions, but which ones really work? MDRC’s Evidence First podcast features experts—program administrators, policymakers, and researchers—talking about the best evidence available on education and social programs that serve people with low incomes.

About Leigh Parise

Leigh PariseEvidence First host Leigh Parise plays a lead role in MDRC’s education-focused program-development efforts and conducts mixed-methods education research. More