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College partners with Catholic Social Services

Campus News | Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Catholic Social Services (CSS) was one of three human services organizations nationally to be selected for a $1.2M award to replicate Stay the Course, a case management program proven to improve students’ retention rates by 23%. CSS will implement the program in partnership with Columbus State Community College to improve students’ college persistence and degree completion.

Stay the Course helps students address personal, economic, and social barriers to college success through intensive case management and emergency financial assistance.  The program was developed by Catholic Charities of Fort Worth and is evaluated by The University of Notre Dame’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO). Preliminary results show that participants in Stay the Course are 25.2% more likely to persist in college and female participants in the program are 31.5% more likely to earn an Associate’s Degree. Catholic Social Services and Columbus State will replicate the program and participate in the research study. CSS will add five employees to implement Stay the Course, and three will directly serve students on Columbus State’s downtown campus. The grant also includes resources for emergency financial assistance to Columbus State students.

“I find it heroic how many people who are already balancing work and family responsibilities go to school to build a better future for themselves and their children,” said Rachel Lustig, President and CEO of Catholic Social Services. “There is no group fighting harder to make their lives and our community better, and CSS wants to be in their corner with Columbus State to help them be successful.”

“We are excited to partner with Catholic Social Services to bring this proven solution to our students,” said Columbus State President David Harrison. “We know that many students face financial challenges that can prevent them from focusing fully on their education. Connecting them to supportive resources is a critical component to overall student success.”

With three years of initial funding, Stay the Course will begin at Columbus State in August 2019.

About Catholic Social Services

Catholic Social Services is an anti-poverty agency whose goal is to empower people in need, regardless of background, with the tools they need to reach their full potential. Our efforts are focused on two specific populations that allow us to have the most significant impact in our community: families and seniors. Our unique approach to helping our clients—most of whom are marginalized or struggling with poverty—is designed to help them overcome barriers to success while respecting their dignity and acknowledging their value to our community.  Learn more at

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