Leveraging Community College-High School Partnerships to Improve College Preparation

October 2014

A Success Story from Leeward Community College in Hawaiʻi

This study describes how GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) Hawaiʻi partnered with Leeward Community College (LCC) to create a sustainable outreach program to prepare secondary school students for college and career.

To provide some context on the setting, this study begins with a brief description of LCC and the high schools it serves through its outreach program. Next, we describe the development of the program and how GEAR UP funding was used to stimulate a systemic change in community college student services, with an enhanced focus on low-income students. Third, we focus on features of the outreach program. We conclude with lessons learned from the development, implementation, and eventual sustainability of the outreach program. Throughout this case study, we share perspectives on the outreach program from key stakeholders.

This study is based on interview data, observations, and documentary evidence collected by the authors, external evaluators of GEAR UP Hawaiʻi, between February and April 2014.The authors interviewed five GEAR UP Hawaiʻi and LCC staff members integral to the development and implementation of the outreach program at LCC; conducted two focus groups with LCC students served by the outreach program and three interviews with LCC student peer mentors; observed the “Discover Leeward Day” at LCC; and visited four secondary schools targeted by LCC’s outreach program, where we interviewed seven high school counselors and administrators. Finally, we reviewed policy and program documents and other materials related to GEAR UP Hawaiʻi and the LCC outreach program, including survey data collected by LCC on the college outreach program that provided us with perspectives from program participants.

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