Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help address educational disparities. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • Improving college access and persistence: The Detroit Promise Path (DPP) is a comprehensive student support program. It aims to boost community college access and persistence rates by combining scholarship funding with evidence-based academic and personal support services.

  • Collaborating across sectors: DPP is administered by the Detroit Regional Chamber, the area’s chamber of commerce, and is funded by both philanthropic and public dollars. The program also works closely with the local community colleges that its students attend.

  • Lowering financial barriers: All Detroit Public Schools graduates are eligible for a Detroit Promise scholarship, a last-dollar scholarship to local community and four-year colleges that covers any remaining tuition and fees after other financial aid is applied.

  • Addressing non-financial barriers: DPP hires campus coaches to work with students at participating community colleges. Coaches mentor and connect students with on-campus resources to address personal, academic, and social challenges.

  • Focusing on coaching: Coaches meet with every student for 15-30 minutes twice per month and are also in frequent touch with students via phone calls, emails, and text messages. DPP offers financial incentives of $50 per month to students who meet with their on-campus coaches as directed.

  • Building in summer coaching: Students are engaged by their mentors throughout the summer and are encouraged to enroll in summer courses or take on career-oriented jobs and internships.

Cost per Participant
Approximately $648 per student per year

A single study with a rigorous design suggests that there is some evidence that Detroit Promise Path is an effective strategy for improving college access.

  • A four-year evaluation found that students participating in DPP enrolled in an average of 0.4 more semesters of college over a four year period than did students in the control group.

  • A three-year evaluation found that students participating in DPP earned an average of 3.7 more credits over a three year period than did students in the control group.

  • Start recruiting early: Developing a partnership with high schools allows coaches to meet with and recruit students before college enrollment. Doing so helps coaches build trust and familiarity with students and raises the likelihood that students will continue to engage once on campus.

  • Invest in small caseloads for coaches: The program dedicates the majority of its budget to hiring and training coaches. This allows DPP to keep caseloads relatively small (about 1 coach per 100 participants). Small caseloads mean each coach is better able to build strong, individualized relationships with students.

  • Use data-informed student engagement strategies: A sophisticated relationship management system allows staff to analyze participation rates, response rates, milestones, and other data points. The resulting insights inform student-focused strategies, such as identifying the times a student is most likely to reply to a coach’s outreach (such as in between classes and during lunch).

  • Cultivate support from college administrators: Strong buy-in from campus leaders has tangible benefits for coaches, including office space to meet with students, easier access to student data, and connections to better help students navigate campus services and resources.

  • Help students navigate finances: Even with some scholarship funding in place, many students continue to face financial barriers, and missed tuition payments frequently lead to students being dropped from enrollment. Coaches should work with students to complete financial aid forms and apply for supplemental scholarships and grants; coaches should also work directly with colleges to make sure students are not dropped from classes.