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Working Students Success Network (WSSN): Final outcomes evaluation report

The Working Students Success Network (WSSN), an expansion of the Working Families Success Network into nineteen community colleges, represents an innovative, comprehensive strategy for supporting low-income students and students of color. The WSSN strategy brings together and integrates access to a full range of services and supports to help students improve their financial knowledge, budgeting skills and choice of financial products, and develop and implement achievable career plans, putting students on a path to securing marketable postsecondary credentials and achieving economic success. To better understand how colleges that are part of the WSSN implement this approach, the WSSN national leadership group contracted Mathematica Policy Research and DVP-Praxis to document key aspects of WSSN implementation, and to analyze participant characteristics and service receipt and their relationship to academic outcomes. Taken together, the findings from the implementation and outcomes studies of the WSSN suggest that community colleges can mobilize to address the needs of low-income students and students of color., Key findings include: More than 50,000 students were served across the participating colleges, with large shares from low-income households (as measured by Pell grant receipt) and traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, in line with the strategy’s focus on low-income students and students of color; Despite emphasis on integrated services and high-touch (one-on-one) services in the theory of change, only 32 per cent of students received services in multiple pillars and 33 per cent received at least one high-touch service; Service receipt varied widely across colleges – receipt of services across multiple pillars varied from below 5 per cent at some colleges to above 90 per cent at others, and the same range applied for receipt of at least one high-touch service; Receipt of services in multiple pillars was positively associated with persistence (though negatively associated with credential completion), and receipt of a high-touch service was positively related to both persistence and completion.