Catalyst Fund Evaluation: Case-Informed Lessons for Scaling Innovation at Community and Technical Colleges

Learning how to scale innovative practices to serve most students more effectively is the major challenge facing institutions of higher education. The Catalyst Fund colleges provided a setting to examine diverse institutions wanting to scale various practices, more deeply within their campuses and more broadly to other colleges. 

This evaluation report of Achieving the Dream’s Catalyst Fund initiative builds on the emergent research on scale, and its reconceptualization from replication to transformation. The literature suggests that achieving scale requires colleges to identify levers for institutional transformation that can create conditions for altering organizational structures and norms of behavior and interaction. Informed by the author's decade-long work evaluating implementation and scale nationally, these levers are identified as “transformative ingredients” that can enable college stakeholders to redefine the idea of scale as a process of change to alter the beliefs and norms of social interaction among college leaders. The evaluation of the Catalyst Fund provided a case-informed opportunity to examine these “transformative ingredients” at four colleges that committed to scaling a targeted, innovative practice to serve most students. In addition, the author used the Catalyst Fund evaluation to identify nine factors for consideration by stakeholders seeking to scale an innovative practice from one college to many.

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