TRiO Scaffolds to Success

Academic Level
Issue Area
Support Services
Key Personnel


The Yakima Valley College (YVC) TRiO staff created the Scaffolds to Success (SsS) program to increase the persistence, graduation, and transfer rates of incoming students who are low-income, first-generation, and academically under-prepared. All qualifying students are informed about the program; approximately one-third of qualifying students self-select into the program each fall quarter. The demographic of the SsS cohorts over the last six years has been 64% Latino. The program offers a highly structured first-year experience that begins with a two-part New Student Orientation and a first-quarter Learning Community that combines developmental English with student success courses and encourages enrollment in developmental math. SsS provides wrap-around support to encourage persistence, helping students plan educational pathways, develop financial literacy, and leverage resources. The curriculum of the learning communities focuses on developing critical thinking skills, resiliency, and understanding of college culture. They use a success coaching protocol to have regular contact with participants after the first quarter and to strategize and provide interventions as needed to help students persist within quarters, between quarters, and across years. They provide tutoring, book loan, grant aid scholarships, and transfer events for all SsS students.

Program Description

Their mission is to ensure qualifying students complete AA degrees and transfer to BA-granting institutions. First year objectives include completing developmental English and Freshman Composition, staying continuously enrolled in developmental Math, and completing at least 15 college-level credits. Second year objectives include completing the quantitative requirement for their chosen degree, taking coursework through the general education distribution, and completing at least another 30 college-level credits. Third year objectives include progress towards degree completion and/or transfer.


139 SsS students were compared to a matched cohort of 334 students from the 2010-2013 cohorts (four years). SsS students performed at higher rates for all compared measures:

  • First quarter retention of 95% was 14 points higher;
  • First to second year retention of 71% was 20 points higher;
  • Completion of developmental English of 89% was 24 point higher;
  • Entering English 101 the second quarter of 76% was 35 points higher;
  • Enrolling in math in the first quarter of 84% was 12 points higher and continuing in math of 76% was 25 points higher.
  • The four year graduation rate was 26% for the SsS cohort and 24% for the matched cohort, but nearly 20% of SsS continued to be enrolled thereafter while only 5% of the matched cohort did.

In addition, SsS students report increased efficacy for student success on efficacy surveys and advocate that all students should experience the SsS entering student model to help them understand how to be successful in college during focus groups for under-prepared students. Several SsS students have served as leaders for the Associated Students of YVCC, student clubs, tutoring, and Diversity Series programs.