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Summaries of RCT Grants

Replication RCT of City University of New York’s (CUNY) Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) at Westchester Community College

This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the ASAP program as implemented at Westchester Community College in New York (under a separate grant, LJAF is funding technical assistance for this ASAP implementation).

Grant Recipient: MDRC

Term: 20172024

Principal Investigators: Colleen Sommo, MDRC 

Michael Weiss, Ph. D., MDRC

Funding: $533,688

Summary: This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the ASAP program as implemented at Westchester Community College in New York. ASAP is a comprehensive community college program that provides academic, personal, and financial supports to low-income students who need remedial education. An earlier RCT of ASAP at CUNY found that the program nearly doubled three-year graduation rates in a population of primarily low-income students with modest basic skills deficits (22 percent of the control group graduated versus 40 percent of the treatment group). These effects on college completion are far larger than identified in any previous well-conducted RCT in postsecondary education.

In Fall 2019 and Fall 2020, MDRC will recruit and randomly assign at least 600 eligible Westchester students to either participate in ASAP (the treatment group) or receive regular college programming (the control group). The study’s short-term primary outcomes are credit accumulation and college enrollment. The long-term primary outcome is three-year degree attainment. The ultimate purpose of this RCT is to determine whether the large impacts on college completion found in the prior RCT can be successfully reproduced at Westchester. 

The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here. This project is also associated with an expansion and replication grant to Westchester Community College Foundation to support program implementation.

(Under a separate ASAP-related grant, LJAF is also funding a grant
to San Mateo County Community College District to support a partnership between CUNY and Skyline College in San Bruno, California under which CUNY is providing Skyline College with technical assistance to ensure implementation of ASAP with high fidelity to the program model; the Skyline project is not part of the aforementioned RCT.)


Arnold Ventures funds projects to understand problems and identify policy solutions.