Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph receives a $1.2 million grant

May 06, 2019
Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph was awarded a $1.2 million grant to provide comprehensive case management to low-income community college students. By doing so, they hope to encourage and enable students to persist in their education, graduate, and improve the trajectory of their earning potential.
Stay the Course™ is a creation of Catholic Charities of Fort Worth designed to combat the staggeringly high drop-out rate among community college students. Research shows six years past enrollment in a community college, only 39% of students had earned a degree or certificate while a full 42% had dropped out altogether. Adding to these numbers is the fact economically disadvantaged students are already three times less likely to complete college than those on a more solid economic footing.
Knowing the value and impact of case management services, Catholic Charities of Fort Worth developed a protocol where each low-income student is paired with a “Navigator.” The Navigator forms a trusting relationship with the student, sets goals, meets weekly with the student, and helps overcome obstacles that might threaten the students’ progress toward degree completion. Since this is individualized, the exact form it takes is dependent upon the students’ circumstance. This could mean providing emergency financial assistance for unplanned expenses such as a car repair or health care bill, helping source affordable childcare, or arranging complementary work and school schedules.
“At Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to address the underlying causes of poverty and to serve the poor in a more profound way,” said Chris Ice, CEO of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph.” “Coming from a higher education background, I was excited to learn Stay the Course™ is different from existing intervention programs in that it extends beyond academic counseling to address students’ social, financial, academic, and personal impediments to achieving a college degree,” he added.
The program launched in 2013, and to measure its effectiveness, Catholic Charities of Fort Worth enlisted the help of the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) at the University of Notre Dame. After three years of analysis, LEO concluded students paired with a Navigator increased their success of graduating at a rate 4x higher than those who didn’t receive services. This was especially true among females who received services, where 31.5% of females graduated after three years compared to less than 1% who didn’t receive services. The results clearly show the increased likelihood of earning a degree and a decreased likelihood of allowing educational pursuits to become dormant for students who participated in the Stay the Course™ program.
“This program has the potential to cut off poverty at its root. For low-income students who Stay the Course, they will meet the demand for higher education required by businesses today,” said Sunny Jones, chief operating officer at Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph and Program Champion for Stay the Course™.
Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph will team with Metropolitan Community College to identify, recruit, and provide case management services (Navigators) to select students beginning with the 2019 fall semester.
For more information about the program, contact Christie Dade at 816-659-8216 or email
The mission of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph is To Serve & To Lift: to serve clients immediate needs, relieving whatever anxiety or burden is on their heart, while simultaneously seeking to lift them to the dignity of self-reliance.
Now in its 104th academic year, Metropolitan Community College is the oldest and largest public institution of higher learning in Kansas City, Mo. MCC educates about 30,000 students a year on five campuses and through a popular online program.
Kevin Murphy, Executive Director Marketing & Communications
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