Carolina Works: First in the World Grant

Carolina Works: First in the World Grant


Carolina Works is introducing proactive and individualized success coaching at 10 North Carolina Community Colleges. Carolina Works’ unique combination of targeted student success coaching, predictive analytics, technology supports, and business process changes has the potential to significantly improve student success.

What is coaching

What is coaching, image description
Success Coach

Listen and seek to understand Students' lives & needs.

  • Primary point of contact
  • Data-informed proactive outreach
  • Respond to early alerts
  • Help students navigate college
  • Academic success strategies
  • Promote Student accountability
  • Advocate on Students' behalf
  • Use technology to prioritize outreach and track student progress
  • Connect students to other supports:
    • Faculty
    • Career services
    • Academic support services
    • Academic advising
    • Financial Aid
    • Community Resources
    • Faculty

Data informed success coaching

  • Proactively reach out to students
  • Empower students to choose the right path towards success
  • Serve as the relationship manager between the student and the institution
  • Use student data to identify and neutralize obstacles and challenges
  • Help students set goals, manage their time, and negotiate life challenges related to work and family, not just school

Coaching Can Lead to Transformative Change

Chart, on the left is a bubble with phrase Registration clearks, four lines come out of the bubble connecting to the phrases Assigned Coaches, Developmental Advising, Case Management, and Student Support as an Institutional Priority.  These four phrases then all connect to a bubble with the phrase Personalized, Sustained Support


Carolina Works will introduce proactive and individualized success coaching to validate the effectiveness of the intervention across 10 North Carolina community colleges. Proactive success coaching has been proven in other contexts to remove academic barriers leading to increases in persistence and completion rates (Bettinger & Baker, 2014).

Student assigned to a Success Coach
  • Coach proactively outreaches to student
  • Coach receives auto-alerts & achievement alerts, and reaches out to student
  • Coach uses Aviso risk score to inform student outreach
  • Coach receives staff-generated early alerts, and outreaches to student
Business As Usual
Services already in operation at college
  • Assignment of advisor to student
  • Academic/Student Success Center
  • Programs serving unique populations (e.g. TRIO)
  • Other college-specific services
New Aviso functionality
  • Students create profile in Aviso
  • Students receive auto-alerts from Aviso for attendance, grades, registration
  • Students receive achievement alerts from Aviso
  • Students assigned predictive analytic risk score by Aviso


In 2008, only 26% of first-time community college students attained a degree or certificate within five years (DOE Completion Toolkit, 2011).

40% of community college students leave without a credential within the first two semesters, especially at risk students (DOE Completion ToolKit, 2011).

Research Goals

The Carolina Works project will test whether or not success coaching has a positive and significant impact on community college students' retention and credential completion rates compared to the business as usual condition. Carolina Works will gather evidence through a randomized controlled trial (RCT) meeting the What Works Clearinghouse standard-without reservations.


Sample intake will occur across 4 semesters and sample will be comprised of students not enrolled in the prior three terms. 50% of students will be randomly assigned to treatment (assignment of a Success Coach) and 50% of students will be randomly assigned to the business as usual condition.

Success coaches will be informed of their students' progress through a web-based early alert system using predictive analytics. Proactive outreach to students will occur beginning when an alert is generated, then prioritized by risk of attrition.

  • ~15,000 students from 10 North Carolina community colleges
Key Outcome Measures
  • First to second semester retention (i.e. fall to spring, spring to fall)
  • First the third term retention (i.e. fall to fall, spring to spring)
  • Credential completion during the study period

Research Findings

Study begins Fall 2016. Final results will be reported Fall 2020.

Chart illustrating how the sample selection is made: for Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, and Fall 2018 'New students are identified at each college' then 'Random assignment of new students to treatment and control at each college (1st & 3rd day of classes)' followed by the creation of a 'Treatment Group' and a 'Control Group' for each semester. Pooled sample observed through June 2020.

Our Goals

  • Validate success coaching as an effective intervention for retention and credential completion
  • Identify best practice characteristics of success coaching for adaptation by other colleges statewide and nationally
  • Through a return on investment analysis, demonstrate that success coaching is a sustainable practice
  • Scaling statewide/nationally


Grant Contacts

College Contacts

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

Project Leads

C. Shannon Brown
Director, Counseling and Advisement

Dena Holman
Vice President Student Services

Success Coach

Jamison McIver

Carteret Community College

Project Leads

Dana Merck
Dean of Student Services

Success Coach

Felicia Wright

Central Carolina Community College

Project Leads

Jairo McMican
Dean of Student Learning

Success Coach

Jennifer Babb

Bryan Koprowski

Kevin Pearson

Candice Solis

Cleveland Community College

Project Leads

Andy Gardner
Vice President of Student Services

Dr. Emily Hurdt
Director of Enrollment Services

Success Coach

Elia L. Grahl

College of the Albemarle

Project Leads

Dr. Evonne Carter
Vice President, Learning

Lynn Hurdle-Winslow
Vice President Student Success and Enrollment Management

Success Coach

Carolyn Hoffman

Jami Rulo Baron

Isothermal Community College

Project Leads

Debbie Puett
Interim Dean of Academic Success and Advising Academic Success and Advising

Success Coach

Marin Crosbie

Erin Balmer

Pamlico Community College

Project Leads

Jamie Gibbs
Vice President of Student

Success Coach

Cristy Warner

Randolph Community College

Project Leads

Melinda Eudy
Dean of Curriculum Programs

Success Coach

Pam Wiggins

Jae Campbell

Roanoke-Chowan Community College

Project Leads

J. Darius Greene
Dean of Student Services

Amy Wiggins
Director, Enrollment Services & Curriculum Registrar

Success Coach

George Holley

Southwestern Community College

Project Leads

Thom Brooks
Executive Vice President

Cheryl Contino-Conner
Dean of Students

Success Coach

Tori Ellison


  • Aviso Retention
  • DVP-Praxis
  • Jobs for the Future

Content developed under grant P11GX150010 from the U.S. Department of Education but do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.