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Packaging the Promise: Money, Messaging, and Misalignment

Sat, April 6, 8:00 to 9:30am, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Floor: Second Floor, Churchill


We study the implementation of The Degree Project (TDP), the first randomized control trial of a promise scholarship. TDP was carried out as designed, but did not achieve its desired outcomes of increased college attendance. We draw on the messaging, implementation, and sensemaking literature to demonstrate that TDP was effective in acting as a carrot for students, increasing their desire to go to college. But, it was ineffective in acting as a catalyst for the necessary changes that may have had to occur for them to attend college. This work prompts a rethinking of how we define and address issues in college access. While the promise of money helps some students, this promise must be met with additional, system-level supports.