Peer Advocacy and AmeriCorps College Completion Coaches

Student Advocacy Peer Advocate Program

Peer Advocates provide peer-to-peer support to help students have a successful experience at the College.  Their work involves assisting students with addressing and removing barriers to success, with a particular focus low income students. Many of our students are struggling with poverty-related major life challenges, including being homeless and food insecure, and need a support system that is sensitive to their situation while also providing needed information and resources. Peer Advocates assisted students with Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB) applications and connected them to Job and Family Services, food banks, temporary housing shelters, and other college and community resources for support. The Peer Advocates help students learn how to self-advocate, build a capacity for resilience, and leverage resources – all critical components for persistence and retention. 

In 2016/17, the Peer Advocacy program provided individualized support for students in-person and by phone and via email.  They connected students to college and community resources, and helped them adjust to college, navigate college processes, learn success behaviors, and address challenges and barriers to their success.  The Peer Advocates also assisted students with submitting Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB) applications to determine their eligibility for public assistance programs.  A Student Advocacy OBB sub-site was established to better track and report the support we are providing.  The Peer Advocacy program conducted outreach activities in Student Central and other areas on campus and at New Student Orientations, distributing information, and assisting with community partner initiatives such as our health care information events.  The advocates presented information in COLS 1100, First Year Experience Seminar classes (these “mini workshops” were offered by request from COLS instructors) and assisted with a tax preparation program.  Peer Advocates completed OBB tax training and partnered with a tax service learning class that provided tax preparation services for students and the community.  They also partnered with AUTO 2399 Maintenance and Light Repair Shop Experience course to have students in the course assist with diagnosing and repairing cars for students in need. 

This year the program was operationalized the Peer Advocate program that was established through our partnership with AmeriCorps and Ohio Campus Compact.  Our previous VISTA who helped to develop this program was hired by the College in November 2015 as a part-time Specialist in Student Advocacy to continue her work with the Peer Advocate program.  Operationalizing the program and ensuring the services are sustainable beyond the AmeriCorps VISTA and Ohio Campus Compact support is a key goal of the partnership.  This included identifying the department (Student Advocacy) in which the program would be housed moving forward, establishing a supervisory structure (the Student Advocacy Director serves as the formal/official supervisor and the Specialist provides functional oversight), and securing funding to support the program (Federal Work Study and Student Success Program special funds).

Goals for next year, include:

  • Increasing promotion of services
  • Expanding connections with faculty
  • Assisting with summer College Success Express program
  • Participating in Admissions Visit Days
  • Conducting more outreach activities
  • Deepening partnership with Job and Family Services
  • Implementing a Student Advocacy website with Peer Advocate information

College Completion Coaching Program

Columbus State continued its partnership with AmeriCorps, ServeOhio, and the Ohio Association of Community Colleges to host two full-time College Completion Coaches (CCC), who were hired in August 2016 (with their term of service ending in June 1017).  The focus of this program is successful course completion, and ultimately certificate and/or degree completion, through intensive coaching support to a caseload of 100 students per semester, 200 per year, in the COLS 1100 (First Year Experience Seminar) and COLS 1101 (College Success Skills) courses.  These coaching contacts can be provided in-person (individually, in small groups, and in the classroom), by phone, and/or via email or other technology (e.g., Skype).  The goal is to have at least 2 (ideally 3) meaningful coaching contacts with each student and to provide at least two success workshops per semester.  They must also coordinate service activities around designated days of service. The coach role is a unique one at Columbus State and allows focused attention on a cohort of new students so they can have a solid start to their academic experience.

In 2016/17 the College Completion Coaches partnered with COLS faculty to support students in the COLS 1100 First Year Experience Seminar and COLS 1101 College Success Skills courses and provided individualized coaching.  The AmeriCorps College Completion Coaches assisted students in-person through office hours in Student Advocacy and also provided support by phone and via email.  They connected students to college and community resources, helped them adjust to and navigate the college environment and processes, assisted them with building skills for academic success, helped them develop a completion plan, and provided support with breaking down barriers impacting their success.
Assisted with Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB) applications. The coaches completed OBB training and assisted students with submitting Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB) applications to determine if they would be eligible for public assistance programs.  College Completion Coaches conducted outreach activities that included tabling events on campus, such as Week of Welcome, Spring Fling, New Student Orientations, and partner events with the Center for Advising, Support, and Exploration (CASE), and presented a variety of workshops in the COLS classes as well as sessions that were open to the campus at large.  They also provided training/workshops for the Peer Advocates and other student employees, and planned and implements five service projects (9/11, MLK Day, Make a Difference Day, AmeriCorps Week, and Global Youth Service).

Plans to expand the program in 2017/18 include:

  • Increasing promotion of program to faculty
  • Assisting with summer College Success Express program
  • Participating in Admission Visit Days
  • Implementing a Student Advocacy website with Coach information

Data indicated the effectiveness for both programs with increased successful overall course completion (C or better) and retention as indicated by the tables below.


Treatment Group

ID 16858

To contact this college about this intervention, take note of the ID above, ID #16858, and then fill out the intervention contact request form

Please note that for security purposes, contact information can only be provided to known contacts at active Achieving the Dream institutions.

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