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Press Release
Posted December 12, 2018

Lorain County Community College’s (LCCC) Students Accelerating in Learning (SAIL) program was launched in 2015 to remove barriers to student success – particularly focusing on low-income, first-time college students. The program was modeled after the City University of New York’s (CUNY) innovative Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), which started in 2007 and has dramatically increased graduation rates by providing three years of wrap-around services that address student needs. LCCC was one of three community colleges in Ohio selected to take part in the replication project.

SAIL received support from Ascendium Education Group (formerly the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation) along with other higher education philanthropies. In order to demonstrate effectiveness, MDRC, a nonprofit nonpartisan research firm, conducted a two-year random assignment evaluation that included similar programs at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, and Cuyahoga Community College.

MDRC released its research findings at a forum hosted by Lorain County Community College in Elyria, OH and collectively the three Ohio colleges boosted semester-to-semester persistence and credit accumulation and more than doubled the graduation rate (from 7.9 percent to 19.1 percent).

“Our SAIL program has proven to be a game changer for students,” said Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D., president of Lorain County Community College. “We see the results in the data. LCCC has already achieved outcomes similar to the CUNY model with 41 percent of LCCC SAIL students graduating in three years. The intense advising and wrap-around support services help students break through both academic and life barriers and reach that finish line. SAIL has proven to be so effective, we have made it a top priority at Lorain County Community College to not only continue the work of the pilot but to scale the program from 150 students to 1,000 students within five years.”

LCCC’s SAIL program offers personalized academic advising and career planning, along with gap tuition scholarships, textbook vouchers, and gas/grocery gift cards supported by donations to the LCCC Foundation allocated to SAIL. Program Coordinator, Matt Mercado, also plans several events throughout the year to encourage student connections. “Fostering the peer-to-peer connections has had a wonderful impact on our students’ success. In addition to student events, our advisors prioritize scheduling SAIL students in classes together whenever possible.”

“I am extremely pleased to see the success of the program at these schools over a two-year span,” said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey. “It gives students — predominantly nontraditional students — the tools and the confidence to succeed. On a larger scale, it helps Ohio get closer to its attainment goal of having 65 percent of working-age adults with a degree or certificate by 2025, which strengthens our workforce and our economy.”

The complete findings from MDRC’s research can be found at

LCCC’s SAIL Student Profiles

Allyssa Earl, 22, Lorain
With the help of the SAIL program, Allyssa Earl completed her associate of arts degree within three years in spring 2018. She started her coursework at the downtown Lorain Learning Center as transportation to Elyria was a barrier for her. Initially she took both in-person and online courses until she was able to purchase her own car and drive to the main campus in Elyria. Alyssa has worked as a Student Worker at both the Lorain High and downtown Lorain Learning Center locations. She successfully transitioned to Cleveland State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is continuing to work on campus in the office of Student Life. Alyssa graduated from LCCC with a 3.3 GPA and is proud to be first in her family to attend and graduate college.

Zack McConnon, 20, Sheffield Lake
Zack began with the SAIL program in the fall of 2015. One of 14 children, all of which were homeschooled, Zack’s transition to LCCC was different than most. With the support of the SAIL program, and his family (specifically his sister, who is also a SAIL student), Zack has excelled in his studies. In the spring of 2018 he graduated with an associate of arts and a 3.92 GPA. Currently Zack is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Ashland University through LCCC’s University Partnership program.

LePreece Thomas, 47, Lorain
LePreece began courses in 2015 and participated in the SAIL program where her apprehension about returning to school was eased with the information and assistance she received. She has since earned an associate degree in applied science, an associate of arts degree and a one-year technical certificate and a short-term technical certificate in manufacturing engineering technology – industrial mechanical technician. She participated in an internship at Mainthia Technologies at NASA and has since been offered a full-time position as a project coordinator in the cryogenics and operations management division of that company. She plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering through LCCC’s University Partnership.

Dorisa Johnson, 22, Lorain
The personal attention that Dorisa received in the SAIL program combined with mentoring from Dina Ferrer, the coordinator of LCCC’s Lorain Learning Center and LCCC Community Learning Center at Lorain High School, helped her earn her associate of applied science degree in medical assisting in May of 2018. Dorisa chose to work in health care as a tribute to her father who passed away in 2014. She is now continuing her education towards a Bachelor’s in Science and is almost done with a certificate in business administration. She works part -time at LCCC in Lorain while attending college part time.

About Lorain County Community College
Established in 1963, Lorain County Community College is the first community college in Ohio with a permanent campus. For more than five decades, LCCC has served the diverse needs of the greater Lorain County region by providing affordable access to higher education and now serves more than 11,000 students each year. Driving student success, fostering equity, stimulating economic growth, and inspiring community engagement are the College’s leading strategic priorities. The institution embraces its role as an innovative leader that is rooted in the needs of the community it serves.