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Education Planning Initiative presents at the 2016 CCC Student Success Conference, March 14-16.The California Community Colleges (CCC) Education Planning Initiative (EPI) presented an overview and product demonstrations to a large statewide audience attending a recent student success event hosted by the CCC Chancellor’s Office.

Several hundred college administration, faculty, staff and vendors came together March 14-16 in Sacramento, Calif., to promote the continuing success of CCC students at the 2016 California Community Colleges Student Success Conference. With the theme of “Advancing Student Success: From Plan to Action,” the conference provided attendees an opportunity to see different methods and tools being developed systemwide with this important focus. The EPI was there with two different presentations in support of its mission to promote student success.

Student Services Portal & EPI Overview

The first presentation, given to a room filled to capacity, was conducted by EPI product managers Mike Caruso and Barbara Fountain. The presentation provided information on the multiple EPI initiatives under development, including the Student Services Portal. Caruso explained the purpose behind the Student Services Portal. He emphasized the portal’s ability to provide both statewide and institutional components, offering a modern user experience and enabling students to have access to tools and resources earlier than they are able to meet with a counselor. He described the portal’s use of single sign-on, which will allow students access to the portal’s tools and content from anywhere.

Caruso also described the portal’s prescriptive user experience, which was tested heavily with CCC students. Of particular interest was the mobile device support, which allows the portal to be used seamlessly on any phone or tablet. Caruso concluded his portion of the presentation by offering a live demonstration of the Student Services Portal.

Education Planning Initiative presents to a standing-room-only crowd at the 2016 California Community Colleges Student Success Conference.Barbara Fountain followed with an overview of the EPI. Fountain discussed the intended outcomes of the initiative, which include:

  • Helping students make informed choices
  • Creating a structured pathway for students that eliminates complexity
  • Assisting in clarifying goals for students

Fountain related these outcomes to the EPI’s goal of reducing the time it takes students to complete a degree, certificate or transfer by 10 percent in three years. She explained the structure of the EPI team, showing the areas of focus.

Starfish Platform & Pilot Colleges

Day two of the conference saw the EPI present to another standing-room-only crowd. The session began with Kelly Kilby, Hobsons account manager, sharing an overview and detailed functionality of the Starfish Enterprise Success Platform, which has been adopted by the EPI as its education planning, degree audit and early-alert system. Kilby shared a success story from Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif., one of the community colleges using the Starfish Enterprise Success Platform.

Robyn Tornay, EPI project manager, then moderated a panel discussion featuring representatives from a few of the pilot colleges that are implementing the Starfish platform. These representatives included:

  • Lidia Jenkins, Interim Dean of Counseling and Matriculation, City College of San Francisco
  • Robert McAtee, Division Chair of Counseling, Crafton Hills College
  • Kayla Mannon, Counselor, Fresno City College

The pilot college representatives shared from their individual experiences, giving the audience an opportunity to hear about the implementation process from those on the ground floor.

Upcoming Informational Video

Both sessions contained a lively question and answer period, with attendees asking about a variety of topics. The amount of information shared during the discussion has prompted the EPI team to create an informational video which will feature Mike Caruso, Robyn Tornay and Kelly Kilby answering the questions raised during both sessions. This video will be posted in April on the EPI website at Please visit the website to view the video once it’s posted, and to find additional information about the Education Planning Initiative.

David Quintanilla is a project team member of the
California Community Colleges Education Planning Initiative