Key Points

This article examines lessons learned as part of the continued development of the Get2College Pilot School Program, an initiative of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, designed to test a strategy for increasing college enrollment among Mississippi students through greater college exploration opportunities and application and financial aid supports.

While a review of the first three years of the pilot found it had an impact on college-going culture at its eight participating schools, Get2College found no significant increase in college enrollment over the 2016–2018 academic years and a retrospective analysis revealed flaws in the program’s design and theory of change. In response, the foundation partnered with a consultant to refine its strategy for a second phase of the pilot. Among the results of this partnership were four major lessons for the foundation: Begin with a commitment to engagement between school districts and school administrators; create a “college team” at each school to embed support for enrollment and completion; build a strong theory of change and evaluation method; and customize support strategies to regional contexts and individual schools.

These lessons from the Get2College Pilot School Program can be of value to other foundations considering a transition from direct intervention to systemic change in their approach to college enrollment and completion support.

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