Project Finish Line brings completion coaches to support student success

Over the summer, Seattle Central College gained a new resource to help more students complete their degrees. As part of a program called Project Finish Line, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding two new completion coaches for the next two years.

These new coaches offer additional support to students who are close to finishing a degree, with the goal of helping them successfully reach graduation. Coaches serve as case managers for students and help guide them through procedures like registering for classes and securing financial aid. The coaches will also work to form a professional Learning Community, consisting of advisors and staff, to nurture a lasting culture of student support to help more students complete their degrees.

Bo Leung and Meghan Mayo recently accepted the two completion coaches positions. Meghan works primarily as a coach for professional-technical students. She formerly served as an academic adviser and College Transfer coordinator at Seattle Central. Bo works with college transfer students to help them move on to four-year institutions. He formerly worked in the TRiO program, and also graduated Seattle Central.

Project Finish Line was launched in response to declining completion rates at community colleges. Nationally, only 23 percent of first-time, full-time community college students earn degrees within three years. The impact of these low completion rates disproportionately affects low-income and underrepresented minority students.

The program is modeled after Walla Walla Community College’s completion coach program, which won the 2013 Aspen Institute Prize for Community College. The two-year program will fund similar completion coaches at three other colleges, including Green River College, and both North Seattle College and South Seattle College. It will also unite a consortium of seven regional colleges to work more efficiently and effectively to support student success.