Strong Start To Finish

Information on Grants, Sites and Plans to Grow

Strong Start to Finish (SSTF) has Scaling Sites across the U.S., including in Arkansas, California, Georgia, New York and Ohio, with plans to expand to additional sites when and where appropriate. In addition, several small grants of support were issued during our initial call for applications. These include sites in California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Grants Given

In February 2018, SSTF awarded three-year grants totaling $8.525 million to higher education systems committed to getting students onto successful pathways to college completion. These grants offer direct support to address attainment gaps for historically-underserved populations.  

"Ultimately, these grants are an accelerant," says Christopher Mullin, director of SSTF. "Change in the field is already happening; the point is to 'fan the flame' to more quickly achieve system equity and a balance between student needs and operating realities in colleges nationwide."

Survey of Research and Practice Needs in Developmental Education Reform

SSTF is being awarded $5.35 million to spur equity-centered research, practice, and policy invention and innovation, address emerging challenges at currently supported systems, and to provide targeted technical and strategic assistance to systems preparing to implement developmental education reforms at scale.

Strong Start to Finish seeks your thought leadership to spur equity-centered research, practice, and policy invention and innovation. We seek your guidance on both the questions that need to be answered as well as the policies and practices you seek to replicate. To achieve this objective, we have created an online Survey of Research and Practice Needs in Developmental Education Reform to capture your perspectives. To be very explicit, we plan to democratize the voices informing education policy, practice and research by asking established researchers, neophyte academics, institutional administrators and staff, system leaders and staff, faculty from all disciplines, think tanks and members of the philanthropic community to take a few moments of their time to take a survey.

Strong Start to Finish will then analyze the submitted survey responses and deploy financial resources provided by current and future funders to seek answers, where possible. Our working timeline for primary consideration is as follows:

  1. Early 2020: Begin funding research projects
  2. March 2020: Invited researchers/projects participate in the Strong Start to Finish Learning Network Convening in Miami, March 2-5, 2020.
  3. March 2021: Research project initial findings presented at the 2021 Strong Start to Finish Learning Network Convening.
  4. The research project will have to be completed by September 30, 2021 at the latest.

While primary consideration will be given to survey responses received by December 2, 2019 Strong Start to Finish will continue to accept survey responses into 2020. We strongly encourage thought leaders from locations who have traditionally been underrepresented in this space - faculty, system leaders and staff, institutionally-based practitioners - to complete the survey and inform the future of our collective work. You can submit as many ideas as you have via the survey. To access a PDF version, please click here.




Seeding Site Grant Program

While Scaling Sites representing six systems comprised of 250 institutions currently serve as catalysts for momentum, state and system-level interest in scaling developmental education remains strong. Since the launch of Strong Start to Finish (SSTF) system leaders have consistently reached out to SSTF and Education Commission of the States staff seeking advice for moving reforms forward in their state context, as well as information about how to engage the learning community created through the initiative.

As it is in the best interest of the developmental education reform movement, the lived educational experiences of students who benefit from these reforms, and system leadership seeking strategic and technical guidance to support student success Strong Start to Finish is pleased to launch a Seeding Site grant program which provides targeted technical and strategic assistance to support ongoing efforts of systems preparing to implement developmental education reforms at scale.


Eligibility Criteria

This grant opportunity is available for states, state postsecondary systems/agencies, state-located regional higher education consortia and/or state located higher education associations within any of the 50 United States seeking to advance, consolidate and link core institutional reforms that enable low-income students, students of color and returning adults to succeed in gateway math and English courses and enter academic or career pathways by the end of their first year in community college or a broad-access 4-year institution.  Applicants must have the authority and capacity to design and implement a large-scale project.


Systems are eligible to receive between $100,000 and $300,000 to implement targeted reforms in developmental education as identified on the Seeding Site Application. Applications will be funded until resources allocated for the program are expended.

Key Dates

  • Monday, December 16, 2019: Seeding Site Grant  Program application is available 
  • Tuesday, January 21, 2020: Primary Consideration Due Date. Applications received by 5:00pm (MT) will be given primary consideration.
  • By February 2020: Decision on Applications Submitted by January 21, 2020.

Strong Start to Finish leadership will coordinate with applicants to identify technical assistance partners and finalize budgets to arrive at a final application and funding amount.

Selection Criteria

While the application will be available until funds are expended, applications submitted by January 21, 2020 will be given primary consideration.  

Successful applicants will have clearly articulated application that presents a coherent, thoughtfully sequenced work plan to achieve change at scale and a budget that supports the work plan and goal. Strong Start to Finish will evaluate the proposal for overall clarity and feasibility across sections A through H of the application. It may also consider publicly available data with respect to existing board policy, law, rules or regulations as expressed in the application and available through relevant 50 state comparisons of Education Commission of the States and data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

To access the Seeding Site Grant Program application click here. You can also submit a Seeding Site Grant Program application to

If you have questions about the application, please contact Christopher Mullin at