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May 19, 2022

First Community of Action to provide assistance with Summer Bridge Programs across the state

Six colleges and universities make up 2022 cohort


The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development launched its first Community of Action today to provide coaching and assistance in creating or expanding Summer Bridge Programs across the state. Summer Bridge Programs are an additional opportunity to develop pathways to learning at the critical juncture between high school and college.

Six institutions make up the Summer Bridge cohort: East Central College, Harris-Stowe State University, Missouri State University, St. Charles Community College, Truman State University, and the University of Missouri-Columbia. These institutions are undertaking a training program focused on data collection, project management, and equity in practice. Program leaders from each of the schools will meet once a month, now through October, with additional support and coaching through April 2023.

“Through research we know students choose to pause their education for a variety of reasons, including a lack of academic preparedness, financial resources, the lack of mentors or guides, and few meaningful connections on campus,” said Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education. “Summer Bridge Programs, while not a cure for all stop-outs, is a proven way to help students arrive on campus more prepared and with relationships and resources already a part of their experience.”

Through this Community of Action, the department hopes Summer Bridge Programs will improve fall-to-fall retention rates among all students, but is particularly focused on improving the experiences of first-generation, low-income, and students traditionally underserved, such as students of color and adult learners.

Summer Bridge Programs come in a variety of forms, but they often allow students with similar backgrounds a chance to build relationships with one another, gain valuable credit, and be introduced to critical college resources that can mitigate their chances of pausing their education.

The Community of Action is designed to bring together Missouri colleges and universities who are doing on-the-ground work to improve attainment rates and close equity gaps on college campuses. While this is the first Community of Action, the department hopes to offer additional opportunities for institutions in the future.

Learn more about the Communities of Action and the 2022 Summer Bridge Program online at https://dhewd.mo.gov/initiatives/CommunitiesofAction.php.