Success First

We understand that college can be challenging academically. Donnelly’s Success First program helps students who test below the level for college readiness gain the strong English language and reading and writing skills they need to be successful in college classes.  

Two levels of Success First classes are offered: Intensive English and Reading and Writing.  

Reading and Writing is a 12-credit hour program that prepares students for the demands of college-level reading and writing assignments. Students learn to communicate effectively in oral and written form, to read for purpose and comprehension, to use standard English grammar and sentence structure, and to use pre-writing, peer review and editing techniques in essays. 

Intensive English is a 14-credit hour program for English Language Learners that focuses on phonemic awareness, high-frequency word recognition, reading comprehension, oral fluency, and writing complex sentences and short essays.  

How to Participate in Success First 

Donnelly College prides itself on an “Open Door” policy which accepts all students who have graduated from an accredited high school or an equivalency program such as the GED. To decide placement into college level courses, all students are administered the Accuplacer Placement Test if they do not have ACT scores. Those students who fall below the cut-off of 100 level courses are referred to Success First for possible placement. 

Once the Testing Center Coordinator has the student’s scores, the student is referred to the Director of Success First. The students meet one-on-one to discuss placement options, the credit hours required and the commitment involved. Both cohorts meet five days a week and require tutoring, lab, classroom time and some online interaction through our learning management system. Both cohorts are intended to last one-semester as preparation for college level courses. 

Community Involvement 

For both Intensive English and Reading and Writing students, Donnelly partners with Unbound, a local non-profit that facilitates child and elder sponsorship for persons living in poverty throughout the developing world. Unbound pairs each Success First student with an 18- to 24-year-old student somewhere in the third world and, as often as possible, from their home country if outside the United States. Donnelly students write to their partners both in English and in their native languages (if not English). The Donnelly students also tour the Unbound offices located in Kansas City, Kansas, learning about volunteer and internship opportunities as well as non-profit careers.  

In addition, for Reading and Writing students, Project L.O.U.D. (Literacy Outreach in Urban Districts) pairs Donnelly students with at-risk elementary students at public and Catholic schools in the urban core of Kansas City, Kansas. The Donnelly students read age-appropriate books to the elementary students and also serve as culturally responsive role models, giving minority and low-income students the opportunity to interact with college students. Project L.O.U.D. reinforces the idea that reading is a lifelong skill and that going to college is a goal within reach for these elementary school students. 

Student Success

Sunita K. is an example of a student for whom the Success First program was an excellent first step in her college journey. She enrolled at Donnelly College right after graduating from high school and started in the Success First Intensive English class in fall 2018, then moved on to Success First Reading and Writing in spring 2019. Thanks to her hard work and positive attitude, Sunita made excellent progress and was ready to enroll in college-level classes, including Composition I in fall 2019. Sunita continues to excel both as a student and as a member of the Donnelly community. Sunita serves on Student Senate and was recently named a Dragon Scholar. She is working with the Admissions Team to recruit future Donnelly students. 

Need more information? Contact:

Headshot photo of Gretchen Meinhardt

Gretchen Meinhardt 
Director of Success First
(913) 621-8721 - Direct
(913) 621-8706 - Admissions

Learn more about me.

Headshot photo of Michelle Lundy

Michelle Lundy
Assistant Professor
(913) 621-8753 - Direct
(913) 621-8706 - Admissions 

Learn more about me.