A program for students at two community colleges in the Maricopa Community College district will provide comprehensive academic and personal support for students with learning differences. A dozen students at Glendale Community College and another 12 at Paradise Valley Community College will receive personalized mentoring through the NorthBridge College Success Program.
Every year in Maricopa County, more than 3,000 students with learning disabilities that include autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit disorders, dyslexia, and speech and language impairments graduate from high school. Although they have the potential for completing post-secondary coursework, the enrollment rate for these students who learn differently is half that of their fellow graduates and their completion rate also lags behind.
Both NorthBridge and the Maricopa Community College District embraced the Arizona Community Foundations’ pilot idea as a great opportunity to find out how to best support the specific needs of this growing college population. Amy Rabideau, the Disability Resources and Services Manger at Glendale Community College, underscored the importance of this partnership, “NorthBridge provides extra support services above and beyond ADA accommodations offered through the Disability Resources and Services office. They really bring a best practice approach when serving students by providing weekly tutoring, mentoring, and academic and career planning services.”
NorthBridge’s multilayered support system focuses on academic success and personal development by providing academic guidance, mentoring, academic support, social competence, and life skills building opportunities. NorthBridge students beat the odds, persisting and graduating at much higher rates than their neurotypical community college peers. “The comprehensive design of this program allows NorthBridge to empower students with learning differences to pursue and thrive in their post-secondary pursuits,” stated Vince Yanez, executive director for Education and Public Policy for the Arizona Community Foundation.
Four weeks into the semester, the pilot has already made a big impact on the students. Nicole S., a current student, said, “Northbridge has been extremely helpful my first semester in college. I could not do this without them.” Another student Jacob C. appreciates the accountability NorthBridge provides, “What I really like about NorthBridge is the constant support. They check up on us and make sure everything is on point. Knowing that someone is there and having that moral support is the best thing that I can have in college right now.”
This opportunity is part of a pilot program funded by a nearly $100,000 grant from The Ellis Center for Educational Excellence, a support organization of the Arizona Community Foundation, to determine how best to incorporate additional support systems at other Maricopa Community Colleges.