Cuyahoga County Council Approves National Guard PFS Contract

On December 6, the Cuyahoga County Council in Ohio unanimously approved a three-year Pay for Success (PFS) contract that will provide college access and success coaching services to National Guard service members in the Cleveland Metropolitan area and surrounding areas who are looking to obtain a higher education credential that furthers their career aspirations.

Since 2019, Third Sector has been working with the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) and Cuyahoga County's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to improve enrollment, persistence, and completion outcomes for Ohio National Guard Scholarship Program (ONGSP) recipients. Cuyahoga's DHHS, the first county in the nation to launch a PFS project in 2015, led program and contract design efforts with Third Sector and InsideTrack, a leading national organization that supports learners seeking higher education. Together they tailored a coaching and skill-building program for the National Guard that strives to eliminate racial disparities between White students and students of color.

Historically, the rate of ONGSP recipients who have graduated and obtained a credential is low, particularly for students of color, despite receiving fully funded scholarships. Roughly 27% of White ONGSP recipients get two-year degrees, compared with 13% of Black ONGSP recipients. 

Third Sector identified the root causes for non-completion, including why there were racial disparities in completion rates, to help guide the design of the coaching and skill-building program, including its eligibility and contract structure. As a result, InsideTrack (the provider), DHHS (the administrator), ODHE (the data validator), and Maycomb Capital (the funder) can better support the Ohio National Guard in helping ONGSP recipients obtain credentials.

In 2023, InsideTrack will start providing these customized coaching services to about 500 eligible ONGSP participants pursuing a degree or certificate over three years. This work would not have been possible without the philanthropic support and partnership of the Kresge Foundation and the ECMC Foundation.