University of Minnesota
Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention | Institute on Community Integration
Institute on Community Integration CEHD

Photo of mentor with student, representing Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention.

Adaptations for Other Contexts

Although Check & Connect was originally conceived of in traditional K-12 school settings, the model has been extended into other contexts. We are currently engaged in the following Check & Connect adaptations:

After-School Settings

BE GREAT: Graduate: Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Adaptation of Check & Connect

Summary Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) has adapted Check & Connect as BE GREAT: Graduate (BGG), a program for Club members in grades 5-8. BGG aims to improve Club members' academic success, as indicated by decreased absences from school, decreased tardy arrivals to school, decreased behavioral referrals, improved grades, increased engagement with school, on-time grade progression, and ultimately, graduation from high school.
Funder Conoco-Phillips
Years 2009-present
Contact Daisy Smith, Director of Education Programs, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, 404-487-5621,
Related News

Greenbay Press Gazette • April 26, 2014
Today's take: At-risk students get coaches

Peoria Times • October 4, 2013
Boys & Girls Club seeks mentors in Peoria: Volunteers keep at-risk youth on path to graduation • July 29, 2013
Boys & Girls Clubs seek mentors

Ballard News Tribune • January 30, 2013
A new face at the Ballard Boys and Girls Club

AT&T • 2012
Graduating students, one community at a time (Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay, WI recipient of 2012 AT&T Aspire Local Impact Initiative)

The Spokesman-Review • October 18, 2010
Boys & Girls Club program supports struggling students

Folwell Middle School Mentoring Model (MMM!)

Summary The Folwell Middle School Mentoring Model (MMM!) is an adult-led after school small-group program, based on Check & Connect, designed to:
  • Develop an adult mentor-student relationship
  • Increase student engagement at school and with learning
  • Provide tutoring in academic success skills and motivation to learn
The program works with 6th grade students showing signs of disengagement for an hour after school four days a week.
Funder University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Youth Development
Years 2012-2013
Contact Jean Ness, Ed.D., Research Associate, Institute on Community Integration

Juvenile Offenders

Making a Map: Finding My Way Back

Summary The University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration, in partnership with Ramsey County Community Corrections, Amicus, St. Paul Public Schools, Twin Cities metropolitan area postsecondary programs, and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, will carry out a comprehensive, evidence-based project to support juvenile offenders with disabilities (in particular, students with emotional and behavioral disabilities and learning disabilities who are overrepresented in correctional facilities) transitioning from juvenile justice facilities into secondary and postsecondary education, employment, and community programs. This project will be conducted in Ramsey County, which encompasses the major urban area of St. Paul, Minnesota and surrounding suburbs. It will:
  1. Utilize an already developed and tested reintegration framework and toolkit designed to support strategic interagency collaboration and planning to guide all project activities and achieve the goal of sustainability beyond the initial period of federal funding;
  2. Implement Check & Connect to support students’ reentry into and engagement in school and with learning;
  3. Implement individualized goal setting and planning strategies focused on youths' academic development, positive behaviors, study skills, school completion, postsecondary education, and employment preparation using the Expanding the Circle curriculum;
  4. Conduct a comprehensive evaluation that fully documents the goals, activities, outputs, and outcomes of the demonstration model; and
  5. Create a sustainable model through extensive interagency collaboration that continues the strategies and interventions used during the project to achieve positive results. 
See Making a Map webpage for more information.
Funder Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education
Years 2013-2017
Contact Jean Ness, Ed.D., Research Associate, Institute on Community Integration

Native American Youth

Connecting Through Service: A Model for Integration of Check & Connect and Service Learning

Summary Fond du Lac Ojibwe School has partnered with the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota, the National Youth Leadership Council, and Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to integrate Check & Connect, service learning, and youth leadership and entrepreneurial skills to increase engagement and supports for 9th-12th graders. By creating a Youth Engagement Zone on the Fond du Lac Reservation, Connecting Through Service is building intergenerational relationships through service efforts linking Native traditions with academic standards and enhancing leadership opportunities for youth at school and in the community.
Funder Learn and Serve America, Youth Engagement Zones
Years 2010-2013
Contact Jean Ness, Ed.D., Research Associate, Institute on Community Integration

Postsecondary Students

Check & Connect: A Model for Engaging and Retaining Students with Intellectual Disabilities in Higher Education

Summary Central Lakes College (Brainerd, MN), Ridgewater College (Willmar, MN), and the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota are establishing an inclusive and comprehensive model for engaging and retaining students with intellectual disabilities in higher education programs. This demonstration project is developing a postsecondary model providing Check & Connect coaches to work with college students with intellectual disabilities to address their persistence, engagement, and successful program completion. The project focuses on academic engagement, social integration, comprehensive systems of student support, interagency collaboration at the state and community levels, and successful program completion leading to positive employment and independent living outcomes.
Funder Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID), Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education
Years 2010-2015
Contact Jean Ness, Ed.D., Research Associate, Institute on Community Integration
Related News

Central Lakes College News Blog • September 11, 2012
Central Lakes College gets Daily Planet mention

Twin Cities Daily Planet • July 27, 2012
Do students with disabilities like Down Syndrome belong in college?

Making the Connection: Engaging and Retaining Students in Postsecondary Education

Summary Through a Goal 2: Development grant, researchers at the University of Minnesota adapted Check & Connect for the community college setting. Minneapolis Community and Technical College and Jefferson Community and Technical College in Louisville, Kentucky were the sites for the development study. Analogous to Check & Connect, Making the Connection has four components:
  1. A small group of community college students who want/need extra support.
  2. A mentor/small group leader who keeps the focus on achieving the students’ academic and career goals. The mentor both facilitates the group and is available for individual mentoring. The mentor provides active support.
  3. Systematic self-monitoring by students with feedback from the small group and mentor.
  4. Intentional, timely, personalized “interventions” designed to help students stay on goal.
Preliminary results indicate that although the n was small, participants did better than the comparison group on term GPA, cumulative GPA, course pass rate, and term-to-term retention.
Funder Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education (Goal 2: Development)
Years 2009-2012
Contact Karen Storm, Ph.D., Research Associate, Institute on Community Integration
Related News

University of Minnesota News Service • March 31, 2009
U of M's "Check & Connect" program tackles problem of school dropouts: New grant will expand program to include community college students in Minneapolis and Kentucky

Institute on Community Integration • March 2009
Making the Connection: ICI aims to keep students in college

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