Riverside’s Completion Counts Program Increases Student Success

(Includes excerpts from the article written by Dayna Straehley and published by the Press-Enterprise on June 7, 2013)

With the so-called Two-Year Contract for Alvord and Riverside high school students going to Riverside City College, the Completion Counts initiative has “solved an age-old problem,” the chancellor said.

“This is the biggest problem we have in American education,” Riverside Community College District Chancellor Gregory Gray said. “Students coming to college ill-prepared don’t make it.”

Students at Norte Vista High School gathered in their gymnasium in 2012 to learn about the citywide initiative as high school graduation approaches.

Students at Norte Vista High School gathered in their gymnasium in 2012 to learn about the citywide initiative.

Students coming to RCC on the Two-Year Contract, which began for students who started last fall, are better prepared than their peers from the same school districts, said Ed Bush, RCC’s vice president for student services. He presented the data to the college district’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday, June 4.

Twice as many students on the Two-Year Contract are placed in college-level English their first semester. Almost three times as many are placed in college-level math compared to freshman who started in 2011.

The contract students are also more successful completing coursework overall, Bush’s data shows.

The contract, created through Completion Counts, requires students to attend full-time and guarantees them priority access to the classes they need to earn associate’s degrees within two years.

Most other students start part time and do not take English or math their first three years, Bush said.

To be eligible for the contract, students also must take placement tests and place no lower than one level below college-level English and math.

Funded by a Gates Foundation Grant, Completion Counts has been an initiative with Alvord and Riverside Unified School Districts, RCC, the Riverside County Office of Education, the City of Riverside and Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce. The goal is to raise both high school and college graduation rates in the city.

With the grant funding now in its third and final year, the college and school districts used the grant to change what they are doing so the improvement can continue after the money runs out, RCC President Cynthia Azari said. Shelagh Camak, RCC vice president for workforce and resource development, said those changes are firmly embedded in the way high schools and the college work.

The Two-Year Contract was the defining accomplishment of the Completion Counts effort, Camak said.

English and mathematics faculty from the college and high schools have been meeting to discuss expectations and aligning curriculum to prepare students, sharing statistics and other information that the college had never shared before, she said. Now high school teachers understand what will be expected when their students start college, the curriculum is better aligned and students are better prepared.

Riverside has come together around the need to promote higher education in our community and ensure that our students are able to take full advantage of the opportunities available at any of the institutions of higher education within our city. The two-year guarantee reflects the commitment to lifelong learning and a college-going culture in Riverside by ensuring that students achieve their academic goals through accessible and efficient means. 

To read the full article as written by Straehley, click here.

To learn more about the Completion Counts initiative and the Two-Year Guarantee, visit College311.org, or read more posts on the Completion Counts efforts and successes.

 

Sheltering heARTS Event Raises Over $70,000 for Path of Life Ministries

Members of the 2012 Leadership Riverside Class present the $70,101.56 check to Path of Life Ministries at Good Morning Riverside.

At the Thursday, October 11, Good Morning Riverside meeting, the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce Leadership Riverside Class of 2012 presented Path of Life Ministries with a check in the amount of $70,101.56.

The funds were raised at the Sheltering heARTS premiere gala held in September at the Riverside Art Museum. The event was created and sponsored by the Leadership Riverside class to help raise awareness and critical funds to assist Path of Life in delivering programs that impact the quality of life of all residents and, more directly, the lives of homeless individuals and families in Riverside/Inland Southern California communities.

Event organizer and chair, Christi MacNee said on behalf of the Leadership class, “We wanted to move beyond a simple acknowledgment of the homeless issue and the budgetary crisis to actively participate in something that could make a difference.”

The evening featured art and inspiration. Art pieces were created by the families of Path of Life and displayed throughout the galleries and keynote speaker, Erin Gruwell, author of the Freedom Writers Diary, talked about becoming a catalyst for change, sharing moving stories about her students’ homeless experiences and later successes.

The Path of Life Board of Directors wrote, “Words cannot express a level of gratitude that begins to mirror the measure of time and talent you [Leadership Riverside, Class of 2012] have all poured into this elegant and tremendously successful event. You have not only helped us move homeless families and individuals out of crisis towards self-reliance, but propelled by light years a much desired connection to the business sector in our community.”

The Sheltering heARTS fundraiser event is an extraordinary example of the way Riversiders unite together for the common good of our community.

Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce Awarded the 2012 President’s Circle Award

The California Chamber of Commerce has recognized the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce (GRCC) along with 22 other chambers of commerce with the 2012 President’s Circle award. This award was presented to GRCC at the Thursday, July 12 Good Morning Riverside by Steve Snyder (CalChamber Vice President – Local Chamber Relations). The award, first presented in 2009, recognizes chambers for excellence in business advocacy and helping their members comply with California employment laws. GRCC has been a recipient of the award for four consecutive years.

Riverside is proud to have such an active Chamber, engaged in activities throughout the City including taking an active leadership role in Seizing Our Destiny. Cindy Roth, President and CEO of the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce  is very involved with strengthening the local economy, including taking an active leadership role in Seizing Our Destiny, the community-driven plan for Riverside’s innovative future.

Visit the GRCC website to learn more about their functions.

Completion Counts Video Focuses on Opportunities For Local Students

View the latest video from Completion Counts about the commitment to make sure students are better prepared for college and that they get the classes they need to graduate on time.

Completion Counts is Riverside’s landmark initiative to raise college graduation rates. We are a partnership of teachers, parents, administrators and community organizations behind one purpose: to raise the number of Riverside students who enroll and graduate from college by 2020. The City of Riverside, Alvord and Riverside Unified School Districts, Riverside Community College District, the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and you can change the direction of our city by improving the future of our students.

Riverside Welcomes Surge of New Businesses

Business activity across the City of Riverside is helping boost an economic upswing for Inland Southern California.

Riverside celebrated more than 25 official “Grand Openings” in the past year alone and many other companies expanded operations or added additional locations in the community.

“This is a good thing for Riverside,” Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce Chairman Brian Hawley said, “We’re feeling the economy is slowly starting to turn around and businesses are beginning to invest more capital and employ more people.”

One notable opening celebration was at CarbonLITE, which is currently in the final stages of equipment and facility testing as they prepare to open as the largest recycling facility in the world and bring over 100 green jobs to the City of Riverside.  In addition, AMA Plastics and Crystal Pacific Window & Door Systems, two major manufacturers, recently added approximately 300 new jobs to the community.  Rounding out the list, companies such as Castle Cooke, Dr. Pepper/Snapple and Meridian Food Services Inc. brought over 600 jobs to the distribution sector this last year.

The City’s local universities and colleges have also been in growth mode.  In February, Riverside Community College introduced their new state-of-the-art School of Nursing, Math & Science complex, and La Sierra University broke ground on their School of Business.

Entertainment, hospitality and retail options are on the “rise” in Riverside as well.  The Downtown skyline now includes a new five-story Hyatt Place Hotel which will be accepting reservations for their 125 rooms starting in mid-April and Citrus Tower, a pristine Class-A office building boasting 160,000 square feet of professional office space. Throughout Riverside, foodies and visitors alike have several new eateries to choose from, including Burger Boss, Elephant Thai Cuisine, and Mazz Bar & Grill.

Across the economic spectrum, signs point to increasing consumer confidence in the local economy and the promise of continued job growth.  These businesses and others are examples of the City of Arts and Innovation’s resilience as an engine for prosperity in the Inland region.