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National Network Launches to Connect Students in Crisis

With grant from ECMC Foundation, InsideTrack launches ambitious new initiative to deliver free crisis support for up to 5,000 students

InsideTrack — the national student success nonprofit that established the use of coaching for higher education enrollment, completion and career readiness — today announced the launch of an ambitious new initiative designed to deliver emergency coaching services for students experiencing crisis situations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With $250,000 from ECMC Foundation and a matching grant from Strada Education Network, the Emergency Coaching Network will provide up to 5,000 students at participating institutions with support from InsideTrack coaches specially trained to assess and support across a range of challenging situations.

“From food, income and housing insecurity to feelings of isolation, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety, the pandemic has magnified many of the challenges that students were already facing in growing numbers,” said Dr. G. Brent Wallace, Chancellor of North Central Texas College, a Network member institution. “During this unprecedented time for our students and communities, it’s never been more important for us to help students navigate these challenges and build the skills to thrive. We’re grateful that organizations like ECMC Foundation and InsideTrack are collaborating to support us and other institutions in these efforts.”

In the wake of COVID-19, colleges are seeing surging demand for emergency student support services, including coaching, to help students struggling with mental health challenges, financial distress, the loss of unemployment, and concerns around personal health and safety. According to recent data from InsideTrack’s Crisis Support Services team, students seeking support to help meet basic needs such as housing, food and medicine have increased by 203 percent from 2019. The number of students requesting assistance to navigate mental health crises has also more than doubled during the same period.

Starting in September, students enrolled at participating colleges and universities will be able to access emergency coaching services through a centralized portal connected to InsideTrack’s uCoach engagement platform. Expert coaches will then work one-on-one with students across multiple communication channels, using best practices developed over more than a decade by InsideTrack’s professional Crisis Support Services team. In addition to helping students navigate emergency situations, these short-duration coaching engagements will also help them develop more general skills crucial to long-term student success, such as time management and self-advocacy.

“COVID-19 has exacerbated many of the basic needs, mental health and other issues that often prevent students from completing, particularly among historically underrepresented student populations,” said Kai Drekmeier, founder and chief development officer at InsideTrack. “This initiative is about rapidly expanding the availability of responsive, holistic student support and building the long-term capacity of institutions to meet the evolving needs of their students.”

Institutional capacity building and program evaluation will also be key components of the emergency coaching initiative. InsideTrack will provide all participating colleges and universities with insights into the barriers their students are facing. Up to ten will receive dedicated staff development and training to enhance their ability to assess students’ acute needs, de-escalate potential crisis situations and manage feelings of compassion fatigue among frontline student services professionals. An independent evaluation of the overall program will be conducted by Cicero Group.

“The pandemic has placed new levels of stress and strain on a generation of students who were already facing historic challenges related to college persistence, affordability and completion,” said Peter J. Taylor, president of ECMC Foundation.  “This initiative will deliver urgently-needed support to students and assist the institutions who serve them in building long-term crisis support capacity.”

The Emergency Coaching Network officially launches next month. Institutions who have already joined the network include North Central Texas College, CUNY Kingsborough Community College and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. Colleges and universities interested in joining the Network, as well as foundations and others interested in supporting the initiative can contact InsideTrack directly at

About InsideTrack
InsideTrack is passionate about student success. We partner with institutions and organizations to improve enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness. Our student support methodology uncovers first hand feedback about student goals and challenges. Through strategic guidance, staff training and student coaching, we help institutions turn this feedback into actionable insights that drive better student outcomes. As a nonprofit member of the Strada Education Network, we offer partners access to a comprehensive range of student success solutions as well as the latest research and insights on student success. We’ve supported more than 2 million students since 2001 and currently serve over 4,000 programs. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @InsideTrack.

About ECMC Foundation
ECMC Foundation is a Los Angeles-based, nationally focused foundation whose mission is to inspire and to facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes—especially among underserved populations—through evidence-based innovation. It is one of several affiliates under the ECMC Group enterprise based in Minneapolis. ECMC Foundation makes investments in two focus areas: College Success and Career Readiness; and uses a spectrum of funding structures, including strategic grantmaking and program-related investments, to invest in both nonprofit and for-profit ventures. Working with grantees, partners and peers, ECMC Foundation’s vision is for all learners to unlock their fullest potential. Learn more about ECMC Foundation by visiting and ECMC Group by visiting

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