Community College Research Initiatives

Why Equity Matters to Coaching for Change

Coaching for Change (C4C) focuses on helping community colleges engage in systemic, transformative change to improve student success. Utilizing a critical friend methodology, C4C integrates an equity lens into all aspects of the coaching process. Our theory of change distills the WHAT, WHY and HOW of change to support Student Success Centers (SSCs)* in developing, implementing and evolving equity-minded coaching programs.

How to integrate equity into coaching programs is a central focus of our work with SSCs, ensuring guided pathways and other student-success frameworks center racial equity in vital improvement work. We support SSCs in designing strategic coaching plans that embed equity and equity-mindedness practices throughout, utilizing applied research, technical assistance, professional development, and communities of practice to improve student success and close equity gaps.


CCRI and our partners developed this collection of briefs, tools and coaching models particularly salient for anyone interested in designing and implementing equity-minded coaching programs. It is our goal to share lessons from the field about emerging and more mature coaching models that cover a variety of state and institutional contexts.

*  Student Success Centers are state-level organizations charged with managing and facilitating student success initiatives to accelerate efforts that improve persistence and completion within their respective state community college system.

Background to the SSCN Coaching Program

Since 2017, CCRI has partnered with Jobs for the Future’s (JFF) Student Success Center Network (SSCN) as strategy consultants to the Student Success Center’s (SSC) in support of developing and operationalizing their state-designed coaching plans for guided pathways implementation (at scale) among other reform efforts. These coaching plans improve student success by strategically utilizing applied research, technical assistance, professional development, and various collaborative knowledge-sharing strategies. As a national partner of JFF for the SSCN, the Coaching for Change (C4C) project supports collaboration with Student Success Center (SSC) executive and assistant directors nationwide to advance statewide coaching initiatives.


This coaching pilot program laid the foundation for SSCs to begin designing or enhancing coaching programs to engage colleges in the implementation of guided pathways. CCRI, as strategy consultants, offered technical assistance and customized supports to the 10 participating SSCs. Documents were generated to include descriptions of the SSCs pilot projects, webinars to help those just getting started with coaching programs and research briefs on topics such as equity-mindedness and evidence-based organizational change.

Phase I

Building on lessons learned from the pilot, JFF refined the program goals to support institutional coaching and launched the SSCN Coaching Program in 2018. Five Centers were selected to participate in the SSCN Coaching Program’s two-year coaching grant to facilitate reform throughout the community colleges in their states: Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas. CCRI continues in the role of strategy consultants to support the five SCC executive directors. Implementation of this program is taking place in parallel with Achieving the Dream (ATD) training of institutional coaches for all 16 SSCs, to increase coaching capacity within the SSCN.