Digital academic coaching company Pack Education and its partners today announced the kickoff of Ignite Powered by Pack Education, a virtual academic advising pilot program to provide support to students at Bishop State Community College, Coastal Alabama Community College , and the University of South Alabama.

Pack Education, a subsidiary to digital health coaching company Pack Health, applies a digital coaching model to academic advising to increase the graduation rate in Alabama. The innovative initiative creates one-on-one engagement to enhance support for students who may be at high risk of dropout.

“While national collegiate graduation rates stand at an average of 60%, only four of 27 public and private four-year institutions in Alabama meet or exceed this average,” said M’Kayl Lewis, vice president of Member Services at Pack Education. “The extra support will be instrumental for Alabama students, particularly at a time when they’re learning to navigate a new version of college life created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Selected students will be paired with an Ignite academic coach during the 16-week virtual program for the fall 2020 semester. Ignite coaches provide an average of 40 touchpoints per student. This structure provides an additional layer of support as students navigate shifting learning environments.

“Sometimes students just need affirmation that they matter, someone cares about their goals, and that they are achievable,” said Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker. “Ignite will provide that extra attention through a meaningful mentorship in a way that students are most familiar – their phones. This one-on-one, weekly engagement will help students stay focused on achieving their individual goals, while identifying any roadblocks and providing solutions that will lead them to success.”

The Ignite program is funded by the Alabama Power Foundation, Ratliff Charitable Foundation, Regions Foundation, and the Alabama Community College System. Mobile Area Education Foundation has been an integral part of the program’s implementation. The participating schools are part of the 75,000 Degrees Talent Hub, a communitywide initiative to double by 2030 the number of people with postsecondary degrees.

“The Ignite program is an integral piece to ensuring we reach our goal of 75,000 Degrees by 2030,” said Chandra Scott, Director of Strategic Outcomes at the Mobile Area Education Foundation. “Today’s college students are faced with many challenges and having a multi-tiered support system in place, whether on or off-campus, is vital to their attainment of a credential or degree.”

Myla Calhoun, president of the Alabama Power Foundation, called the program “a powerful tool to help students succeed.”

“Ignite is an opportunity to transform the skills of the workforce in our state,” said Calhoun. “But more importantly, it creates opportunities for students by equipping them with the resources they need to set them on a path to personal and academic success.”

The completion of a college degree is directly correlated to building personal value and wealth and improving economic development. There is extensive evidence that supports the impact of a postsecondary degree on improving by nearly 40% of employment outcomes and earning potential for individuals.

“The Ignite program will have the power to reach students where they are,” said Melinda Byrd-Murphy, dean of External Funding at Coastal Alabama Community College. “Students lead busy lives and need access to academic and life coaching even when they’re not sitting on a college campus. I believe this program will help us reach more students and let them know that their success is important to us.”

“Ignite offers a new education lifeline for students,” said Marta Self, executive director of the Regions Foundation. “Connecting students with the tools they need, in a way that speaks to them, is key to their success. We are proud to support Ignite in removing barriers of success for college students and giving them the keys to a brighter future.”

To learn more about the Ignite program, click here.

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