CCC's first Summer Bridge program achieves goals


CCC Summer Bridge student Nevaeh Talkalai shares a bit about herself to fellow students during a team-building exercise at the college’s Lone Tree campus in Flagstaff.



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Nevaeh Talkalai, gaze strong, spoke to her peers so that they might get to know her and she them.


“I’m urban Native,” she said. “I took pride in being Navajo after a racism event and created an anti-racism coalition. I was born in Fort Defiance and lived mostly in Window Rock growing up.”


She recently graduated from Northland Preparatory Academy in Flagstaff and plans on attending university in Michigan. Her goal: To be an advocate and a counselor for Native Americans.


Talkalai was among more than 40 students participating Coconino Community College’s inaugural Summer Bridge program, created as part a larger program devoted to “Strengthening Indigenous Student Success.” The purpose of the SISS program is to improve the success of Native American students attending CCC.


“We definitely met our objectives for the program, and it has done really well,” said Brian Francis, CCC’s SISS coordinator. “One of the goals of the Summer Bridge program, from the Native American perspective, was that it would be a rite of passage for our first-year students, and we definitely saw that.”


The program objectives are to increase course success rates for Native American students in foundational English and math courses; to increase the number of Native American students who successfully complete their journey at CCC or transfer to university; and to enhance a sense of belonging at CCC, measured through surveys, interviews and focus groups.


The intent of the Summer Bridge program is to help students recently graduated from high school transition into the college experience with a foundational English course, offered free of charge, before the rigors of the fall semester kick in full force. The students engaged with peer mentors, tutoring services and a variety of activities meant to help foster a sense of family and belonging at CCC.


CCC established Native American Success Centers at its Lone Tree Campus and Page Center to help create a sense of home away from home.


The program exceeded the baseline set for English to receive the funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Francis said. Of the 40 students who began the program in Flagstaff and Page, 80 percent of them successfully completed the course, and 65 percent of the participating students have signed up either full time or part time for the fall semester.


“The students learned about themselves as individuals, as members of a team, and what it will take to be a successful college student, and that it will be very different from high school,” Francis said. “We definitely saw that change from becoming a high school student to a college student and the tools they picked up to be successful as a college student in the fall. Overall, it’s been a great success.”


The program was created with the assistance of a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education called the Native American-Serving Nontribal Institution grant. The funds will be distributed over the next five years.


The following are student survey responses to the CCC Summer Bridge program:


What did you learn today or what was your biggest take away?

  • “I learned that at the CCC building that I have a strong support system from the faculty and the students.”
  • “My biggest takeaway from this is knowing I have people to help me with my classes.”
  • “My biggest take away from the team-building activity was probably that this class is a ‘family.’”
  • “I learned and got to know new people, learned some names, saw how much each of us had things in common.”

Was your culture acknowledged in a valuable way in relation to your education journey? How?

  • “Yes, there's a lot of resources specifically for Native Americans, this program being one.”
  • “Yes, I felt that in a variety of ways that I was able to be open expressing my culture and traditional customs.”
  • “My culture was acknowledged in a valuable way in relation to my education journey by incorporating the language, culture and beliefs.”
  • “Yes, the lecture in the beginning about Honaghani (Clan) being natural leaders was informational!”
  • “Yes, it was. I learned how my culture is a valuable foundation in my identity and how I can carry that throughout life.”


For more information about the Strengthening Student Success program at CCC, visit



Monday, 15th August 2022

All Dates

  • Monday, 15th August 2022