Ichabod Success Institute

Academic Level
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Learning Community,
Summer Bridge


The Ichabod Success Institute seeks to prepare students for college coursework, support full-time and continuous enrollment, and build students’ social capital. Program activities, such as the 5-week summer experience where students live on campus and take 6 credit hours for free, facilitate these goals by cultivating institutional integration, literacy skills and success behaviors, and a learning community. To graduate low-income students, the program layers financial, personal, and academic supports.

Program Description

In 2016, Washburn launched the Ichabod Success Institute (ISI) to address low degree attainment among underrepresented individuals in Topeka. Only 10% of Topeka Latinos have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 12% of African Americans and 29% of whites. Since 2000, all population growth in Topeka has been among Latinos, thus serving Latinos became central to ISI's mission. 54% of program participants are Latino.

To help more underrepresented individuals earn a degree, ISI provides sustained wrap-around support for 20 first-generation, Pell-eligible students from Topeka Public Schools each year. Support begins 5 weeks before students’ first semester and continues across their first 2 years.

ISI serves Latinos through Spanish-fluent advisors and two free courses that facilitate college literacy and integration. In addition, summer programming cultivates belief among underrepresented groups that they belong at university, and we use two dinners to introduce students’ families to the college setting. Advisors are present at our Sunday potluck with families to build relationships with Latino students’ support systems and answer families’ questions about the college experience. Spanish speaking advisors also assist students with course enrollment and with their transition to college both during the summer and across their Associate’s program.

Early intervention and coordinated care guide program practices. To advance students through coursework, ISI offers intensive tutoring and software designed to reduce or eliminate remedial math. To encourage full-time enrollment, ISI uses intrusive advising, retention scholarships, and on-campus jobs. To build social capital, ISI provides a social worker, first-generation advisor, and community mentors. Students also serve as resources in their home communities for other college-bound individuals from underrepresented groups.


  • Improved readiness for college coursework: Only 11% of Institute students and 3% of Latino participants withdrew in year one, compared to 47% of Washburn University students with similar characteristics. In addition, cumulative GPA after two years is 2.99 for Institute students overall and 3.02 for Latino participants, compared to 2.40 for Washburn students
  • Higher full-time enrollment: 85% of Institute students and 86% of Latino participants complete 30 credits on their first year. Nationally, only 31% of students achieve this goal.
  • Increased retention and graduation: The Institute’s 2016 cohort boasts a 92% student retention rate overall and 96% for Latinos. Washburn University’s retention rate of students with similar characteristics is 53%. In addition, 45% of the cohort and 58% of Latinos graduated with an associate degree in just 2 years. Overall, 92% of Latinos in the cohort are on track to graduate with an associate degree in 3 years.