The following blog post is from the Inland Empire / GIA regional leadership in California as a reflection upon their experiences in a three-year Metro Momentum Pathways project sponsored by the ECMC Foundation and Complete College America (CCA). It is one of a three-part series from the each of the participating sites that includes the Inland Empire / GIA in California, M7 / HERA in Milwaukee, and Southern Nevada. The purpose of this project was to improve postsecondary educational opportunities for tens of thousands of students. CCA led sites in a structured, intentionally designed process for all levels of stakeholders including practitioners, institutional administrators, and executive leadership to build leadership capacity at a regional level in order to drive this work. Each site collected, disaggregated, and analyzed their data to understand their local context, build the urgency for change, and develop a shared commitment to the work. To transform student success in higher education, CCA provided intensive technical assistance for the implementation, scaling, and continuous improvement of gamechanger strategies across the colleges and universities in each region.


The Complete College America (CCA) ECMC Metro Momentum Pathways (MMP) project is integral to the collaboration now occurring in the Inland Empire educational network. The educational network, comprised of colleges and universities, K12 school districts and county offices, government agencies, and non-profits, united around a singular vision of educational progress in the region.

Growing Inland Achievement (GIA) supports the educational network as a collective impact organization whose mission is to improve the long-term economic outlook of the Inland Empire (IE) by improving educational attainment rates among the region’s underrepresented groups. GIA and the network of educational partners indeed were in the right place at the right time to participate in the inaugural MMP project.

Reflecting on the original MMP application and project plan, the network, and by extension, GIA, have come a long way since July of 2018. At that time, many people hadn’t heard of GIA, and regional organizations were only beginning to come together to collaborate and move regional goals forward. We had recently held our annual Toward a Shared Vision convening to some degree of success, but the participants involved were ready for more targeted institutional support. Bringing in the FIT model that garnered support for the project with its concentric circles of meetings, including the action summit, was useful for explaining the work happening and creating the necessary buy-in from the different levels of leadership.

One of the unique challenges GIA faced in implementing the project included the language used to describe the various components of the MMP work and leveraging or building on existing processes and initiatives. The CCA team diligently worked with GIA to use the language in California for the game changer strategies where appropriate (for example, guided pathways instead of momentum pathway). As a result, GIA avoided confusion among participants who thought it might be a new initiative and not one that would support existing work. Also, GIA was able to work with the CCA team to use existing gatherings like our Toward a Shared Vision conference to integrate the planning academy into the discussion.

A vital component of the Metro Momentum Pathway project’s success is that it offered the time and space campuses needed to implement change. Since the beginning of the project, Inland Empire public universities have shown remarkable progress in raising both the four and six-year graduation rates. While all student groups have experienced increases, additional work is needed to close the relatively small yet enduring educational achievement gaps across racial or ethnic, and gender student groups, especially Black and Latinx males.

By participating in the MMP project, GIA has garnered additional trust with our institutions. The planning process also allowed us to apply and receive a joint grant for Guided Pathways implementation for several IE Community Colleges, awarded in 2020 from College Futures Foundation. Additionally, GIA participates in the national Intermediaries for Scale initiative from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that advanced largely because of the region’s relationship with Complete College America.

GIA is deeply appreciative of our ongoing relationship with Complete College America and the collaborative work to improve educational outcomes that ultimately impact residents’ economic mobility and quality of life in the Inland Empire.