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NECC Receives $100,000 Grant from Walmart

Submitted by on June 26, 2012 – 11:55 am

NECC has received a $100,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to continue to address student success. The college’s Math Lab has helped Maria Matrakas and Abraham Batista succeed in math.

Northern Essex Community College was selected as one of 15 community colleges across the country to win a $100,000 Walmart PRESS for Completion grant. The grant program, sponsored by Walmart Foundation and administered by Achieving the Dream—a national nonprofit leading the nation’s most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for community college student success, will enable Northern Essex to better engage faculty (especially adjunct faculty) and staff in important campus-based reform efforts and ensure that more students have a better chance of staying in school and obtaining a market-valued credential.
“The United States is falling behind other countries on important measures such as the number of adults with college degrees,” said Lane Glenn, NECC president. “This grant will help us continue our efforts to retain and graduate students.”

Northern Essex was competing with 50 eligible Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges for this grant.

“Northern Essex has met high standards of practice and performance and is well-positioned to tackle one of the toughest community college reform challenges our nation is facing: engaging more full-time and adjunct faculty and staff in student success efforts,” said Rachel Singer, vice president of Achieving the Dream, Inc.

Michelle Gilliard of the Walmart Foundation explained why her organization is funding this initiative, “The fastest on-ramp to a better life is a college credential. For many students, the barriers to completion are daunting, and engaged faculty and staff members can make the difference between students dropping-out or persisting through”

Northern Essex has been participating in Achieving the Dream, a national effort to close the gaps in student success, particularly among minority and low-income students, for the past five years.

Funding and support from Achieving the Dream has allowed Northern Essex to carefully review and measure current practices and develop new initiatives to help improve student outcomes such as retention and graduation rates.

As a result of its participation in Achieving the Dream, the college has created math tutoring centers in Haverhill and Lawrence; introduced supplemental instructors in challenging courses; developed a College Success skills course; expanded and improved academic advising services; and made several new policy changes with an eye toward student success.

“These efforts are already showing results,” says NECC President Glenn. As one example, Glenn sites the 25* increase in students who successfully completed Basic Algebra II, a developmental course, and then College Algebra or College Algebra & Trigonometry (college level courses). The success rate rose from 49* in 2006/07 to 64* in 2009/10.

“With the PRESS for Completion grant, the college will expand the number of faculty and staff involved in initiatives such as the College Success Seminar, Supplemental Instruction, and an evolving Early Alert system to help new students. We will also research challenges to student academic performance and strategies to address those challenges,” according to Bill Heineman, vice president of academic affairs.

Northern Essex Community College has been recognized as a leader in the national student completion movement by Achieving the Dream, which last year designated the college as one of 23 leader colleges for demonstrating sustained improvement and accomplishments on key student achievement indicators.

Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support initiatives that are helping people live better around the globe. In May 2010, Walmart and its Foundation made a historic pledge of $2 billion through 2015 to fight hunger in the U.S. The Walmart Foundation also supports education, workforce development, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness initiatives. To learn more, visit
Achieving the Dream
Achieving the Dream is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in community college history. With nearly 200 colleges, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams – working throughout 32 states and the District of Columbia – Achieving the Dream helps 3.75 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams. To learn more, visit
Northern Essex Community College
With campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence and extension sites in Methuen and Groveland, Northern Essex Community College is a state-assisted college, offering over 70 associate degree and certificate programs as well as hundreds of noncredit courses designed for personal enrichment and career growth. More than 7,400 students are enrolled in credit associate degree and certificate programs on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses; and another 6,700 take noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus, and at businesses and community sites across the Merrimack Valley. Northern Essex is the only state college located in the lower Merrimack Valley Region of Massachusetts. For more information, visit the website at