While many student success initiatives focus on changes in the structure and practice of how colleges engage with students, front-line staff in admissions, records, financial aid, counseling and assessment have been largely left out of the conversation. But interactions with these staff can influence a student’s sense of belonging.


The Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC) has developed Caring Campus, a program that aims to cultivate stronger connections between students and staff. Caring Campus was originally launched in 2018 in the San Diego/Imperial and Inland Empire regions of California, and we’ve committed $1 million to expand the program to more colleges across the country over the course of two years.

For this project, IEBC is selecting 20 institutions from different regions nationwide, representing a diverse cohort of students, faculty and staff. Through intensive coaching, IEBC will help the colleges:

  • Identify student success efforts that could benefit from additional staff engagement
  • Partner with the Center for Community College Student Engagement to conduct surveys on student and staff engagement
  • Define baseline metrics and determine data collection strategies
  • Map interaction points where staff have the opportunity to make meaningful contact with students
  • Develop a set of behavioral adjustments to improve student-staff relationships
  • Create a plan to monitor progress

We’re hopeful this project will broaden awareness of the importance of strengthening student-staff relationships, and we look forward to learning more about how this work can contribute to student success.


Contact Senior Program Officer Sue Cui at