Student Success Innovation Lab (SSIL)

Student Success Innovation Lab (SSIL)


The UNC System has launched a Student Success Innovation Lab (SSIL) to fund and evaluate promising strategies that can improve student success.

The Lab leverages the System platform to engage in research and development on what works to increase completion rates. The project links two key assets: student success initiatives developed and implemented by institutions and UNC System faculty with expertise in the evaluation of education programs. Specifically, the SSIL will:

  • Fund evidence-based, cost-effective interventions with proximate, measurable impact on student retention, progress and degree completion;
  • Evaluate funded projects via third-party researchers from within the UNC System to assess effectiveness and cost-effectiveness rigorously;
  • Share the results across the System and the higher education sector and accumulate evidence that can make the case for taking successful strategies to greater scale.

By supporting cost-effective solutions to student success, the Student Success Innovation Lab will help the UNC System maximize the return on taxpayer dollars. The Lab will also increase collaboration and communication across our institutions as they work together to help more students graduate in a timely fashion.

“Higher education is built around the idea that evaluation, inquiry and debate centered on facts and data advance society. We must apply that worthy approach to our own operation, and use data and research to sculpt how we teach and support our students,” said President Spellings. “We know it’s not enough to get students into school; we have to provide the support and education that gets them to graduation, and the Student Success Innovation Lab is a big step forward in identifying and scaling what works to do so.”


Areas of Focus

Funding will be designed to improve students’ success rates by implementing innovative strategies that will enhance students’ abilities to complete required coursework successfully, navigate their chosen degree path efficiently, and graduate on-time. Funding will finance projects in three broad areas:

Innovation in Teaching Learning:

Harness new approaches to instruction to improve student learning in key courses.


Chronicle of Higher Education: Traditional Teaching May Deepen Inequality. Can a Different Approach Fix It?

Student Advising and Support:

Develop and test integrated approaches to services and supports that keep students on track to degree completion.


Chronicle of Higher Education: How a University Fights to Keep Students' Demographics From Becoming Their Destiny

Financial Aid:

Reduce financial barriers that may hinder completion, and create incentives for students to accumulate credits and complete in a timely fashion.


Inside Higher Ed: Pushing for 4-Year Graduation

The SSIL is an opportunity for the UNC System to not only measure the effectiveness of interventions, but also for our institutions to build on existing work by taking successful strategies to scale and experimenting with new ideas.


Funding Sources

The UNC System Office has received over $3 million in total funding from the ECMC Foundation and the John M. Belk Endowment to provide funding to institutions to implement student success projects.




For questions or additional information contact Elizabeth Reilley via email.


Additional Information

Information coming soon.

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