SF State’s Metro Academies, an innovative program that helps underrepresented students succeed in college, has earned national recognition for its success in retaining and graduating students. The California State University (CSU) recently awarded the program additional funding to scale up its efforts at SF State.
The Metro Academies was among three inaugural winners of the Most Visible Progress Degree Completion Award, bestowed by the Association of Public-Land Grant Universities at a ceremony during its 126th annual conference in Washington, D.C.
The Metro Academies Initiative redesigns the first two years of college, the critical period when many students tend to drop out. Students in each academy study in a cohort of up to 140 students that is like a 'school within a school,' and receive tutoring, extra counseling, and one-on-one support from faculty.
After proving effective at retaining low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students, the six-year-old initiative has received $675,000 in permanent, annual funding from the CSU's Academic and Student Success Program.
"This marks our transition from being a successful add-on program to becoming permanently built into the structure of the university itself," said Mary Beth Love, program director and chair of the health education department. “The added honor from APLU is simply terrific.”
Metro Academies, a partnership between SF State and City College of San Francisco, provides students with a structured sequence of classes that satisfy general education requirements, while also being infused with a particular academic theme. SF State currently offers Metro Academies focused on health education, child and adolescent development, and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
"In the next three years we will expand from the current three Metro Academies, which serve 9 percent of the incoming freshmen class, to 14 academies serving one-quarter of all future incoming classes," Love said.
By fall 2015, the program will serve approximately 25 percent of students from each incoming class. "This matches the demographic that we aim to serve," Love said. "It means that all underrepresented, low-income and first-generation students at SF State can be in a Metro Academy if they choose."
This rapid expansion is made possible by the CSU funding together with a recent $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Strengthening Institutions Program.
"We will launch Metro Academies across the institution in areas such as ethnic studies, business, and humanities," Love said. "The curriculum of each one will share a common focus on social responsibility, which is so important because it makes the learning relevant to the population we serve."