This publication was developed to support the colleges JFF works with through Accelerating Opportunity, as well as other institutions in search of strategies to enhance their capacity to provide comprehensive supports. The goal of this paper is to provide clarity on what it means to provide comprehensive support services, share what research says about effective practice, and provide some examples of cost-effective strategies that colleges are using to provide this high level of support. We focus on the barriers faced by underprepared learners, the types of supports they need, and the challenges to providing comprehensive supports. We then explore promising strategies and provide two examples of colleges that have developed effective approaches to providing supports. Finally, we offer recommendations for improving the quality and availability of supports for underprepared learners.
Accelerating Opportunity and Breaking Through are two of JFF’s community college-focused initiatives. Accelerating Opportunity helps low-skilled adults earn higher-wage jobs faster by combining Adult Basic Education and career and technical training into one integrated pathway and providing embedded support services to help students persist to completion. Breaking Through is focused on strengthening community college efforts to help low-skilled adults enter and succeed in occupational and technical degree programs that lead to family-supporting careers. Providing comprehensive supports is one of the initiative’s four high-leverage strategies.