Fighting to Create Economic Opportunity

A degree from a reputable community college has the potential to lift people out of poverty, but 60 percent of community college students drop out before they graduate.

The research of economics professors Jim Sullivan and Bill Evans at Notre Dame’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities found that most of these students drop out as a result of non-academic obstacles. Sullivan and Evans are attempting to increase retention rates at Tarrant County College through the program Stay the Course. Created in collaboration with Catholic Charities Fort Worth, the program offers case management and emergency financial assistance with the hope of keeping students on a progressive academic and professional path.

In its first year, Stay the Course has reduced the dropout rate at Tarrant County College by 25 percent. As a result of this resounding success, plans are being made to replicate the program at a second community college in the fall of 2015. Stay the Course is just one of several research-driven programs at the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities aiming to find lasting solutions to poverty in the United States.