Students with disabilities will continue to receive individualized support through academic advising, peer mentorship and tutoring, workshops and networking, thanks to a five-year, $2 million federal grant to Cal Poly Pomona.
The Achievement, Retention, and Commitment to Higher Education Success (ARCHES) program under the Disability Resource Center (DRC) received the Student Support Services grant from the U.S. Department of Education in early August.
The new grant, which includes a 3.5 percent increase from the previous cycle, is especially significant given the fact that less than 5 percent of funds this cycle went to disability support programs – a testament to the impact ARCHES has on students.
“ARCHES creates a safe space for students with disabilities to have honest conversations about how navigate the campus so they do not crack academically. We help them understand how to communicate or request policies without having to disclose their disability,” said Patricia Durán-Quezada, project director.
ARCHES was established at Cal Poly Pomona in 1997 with the goal of establishing academic support services for students with disabilities. Today, the program serves 150 students each year.
The high-level supplemental support for ARCHES students has a direct impact on their academic progress and the university’s Graduation Initiative 2025 objectives, including improved retention and graduation rates and the closing of equity gaps. More than 45 percent of ARCHES students at CPP are low-income, first-year students.
“ARCHES lays the blueprint for ways to support students with disabilities. At the DRC we are always looking to expand services beyond accommodations. We look to model ARCHES because of the success it has had through the years,” said Tracee Passeggi, director of the Disability Resource Center.
“We have a strong relationship with the DRC. We understand how critical it is to put the student first and tailor services to their specific needs,” Durán-Quezada said. “Understanding our students is critical.”
Additionally, the program prides itself on offering a seamless campus experience offering online programs, such as CPP Connect to manage advising and tutoring appointments, iGrad for financial literacy education, and LinkedIn Learning for training resources for peer tutors and mentors.
To be part of ARCHES, students must first be registered with the DRC. The program is currently accepting applications for the 2020-21 academic year and will begin intake interviews later in August. Visit the ARCHES website for more information.