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The Promise Project

The Promise Project is a multi-phase effort by Student Affairs to create a more impactful, supportive, and intentional experience outside of the classroom for Cal Poly students. 

Meeting Students Where and When They Need Us

When students arrive at Cal Poly, they arrive with a diverse set of experiences and skills due to a variety of reasons: opportunity, access (or lack thereof), financial limitations, etc. These are the skills and experiences that complement the in-class learning environment and are essential to long-term personal and professional success: leadership, cultural knowledge, problem-solving acumen, and more.

Furthermore, while Student Affairs already offers thousands of student engagement opportunities through Cal Poly Now, some students can feel overwhelmed by the choices in front of them. In short, they're not sure what to do, where to go, and what engagements would meaningfully help them grow. 

Paths: Discover What’s Possible

Student's journey begins with Paths, a new tool offered in Cal Poly Now by Student Affairs this fall. Paths begin with students taking an assessment of six skills capacities from the Index that helps them identify areas of strength and growth before entering Cal Poly. Once they start college, they are guided to Paths in Cal Poly Now to leverage intentional learning experiences that help them cultivate out-of-classroom learning experiences that we hope develop tangible skills that prepare students for the global workforce.

Benefits of Paths

When students find community, take on a leadership role, or gain skills that will help them succeed in class, on the job, and beyond, they are building upon their sense of belonging and the quality of the Cal Poly degree. And, as the demographics of our student body continue to rapidly change, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that all our students are engaging purposefully.

Launching Paths is part of the first phase in our Student Affairs Promise Project initiative with the vision of ensuring that each student engages in co-curricular experiences that enhance Learn by Doing. In future phases, we will develop a strategic care network to connect students to services that support every aspect of their Cal Poly journey and build data intelligence tools that allow Student Affairs staff to further refine engagements and other experiences.

This intentional work will create more connections among our units, further unifying our division. It will give us more data that we can use to show our impact on student success. We’ll also be better prepared to support the university’s initiative to become a Hispanic-serving institution and its transition to semesters in fall 2026.

More Intentional Skills Learning with Paths

In this inaugural year, we will offer two pilot Paths: a Get Started Path and First-Year Success. All new students including transfers will receive an email on Thursday, Sept. 7, asking them to start their journey in the Get Started Path by learning about Cal Poly Now, downloading the new Cal Poly Now app, and taking a skills assessment from the Center for Expanding Leadership and Opportunity (CELO), nurtured within the Aspen Institute.

The assessment, called the Index, will provide students with a benchmark against six skills competencies. As our students lean in and grow, so will the number of Paths available to them.  These will be coupled with Student Affairs department-specific thematic paths that connect students to the learning experiences we already offer in Student Affairs in five areas of experiential learning:

  • Connect: Build relationships that promote an inclusive campus community and student success. 
  • Engage: Be part of a community and participate in meaningful ways within the campus and local communities; and pursue personal and professional interests.  
  • Thrive: Empower health and wellness by engaging in practices and behaviors that foster a sense of self-awareness, self-efficacy, and holistic well-being. 
  • Belong: Embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion by perusing interpersonal/intrapersonal competencies to become culturally and globally engaged citizens. 
  • Explore: Become lifelong learners that focus on putting learning into practice by working across disciplines and having partnerships to address today’s (and tomorrow’s) most pressing challenges. 

Tools that Make Life Easier for Students

Students simply choose which engagements interest them and track their experiences in the Paths tool. For example, students can get Paths credit for joining a club, participating in Cross-Cultural Experience at Week of Welcome (WOW), hiking Bishop Peak, or volunteering in the community. Paths are customizable and support the unique interests and backgrounds of each student.

A student will receive a certificate acknowledging their completion of a Path. This certificate along with a record of other activities like club memberships and reflective notes are stored in their digital engagement portfolio in Cal Poly Now. A student can easily access their portfolio at any time and use this information to share on resumes, social, job interviews, or whatever else they want.

Download and start exploring events, community groups, and much more at:

Strategic Student Success Partnership with CELO

We are happy to offer new Cal Poly students the opportunity to learn more about themselves through an assessment tool developed by the Center for Expanding Leadership and Opportunity (CELO), formerly known as Aspen Index (or Index). This fall, students will complete an assessment to measure skills in self-awareness, sense of belonging, change behavior, collaboration, curiosity, and purpose.

The Index was established after 20 years of groundbreaking research, drawing on data from over 500,000 participants allowing you to compare your individual results with established national and career-specific benchmarks. These benchmarks identify their assets and opportunities for growth setting the standard for leadership education, training, and development.

Upon completing the survey, a report will be provided to students with individual and benchmark data with other participants in the study. This provides students with a strategic roadmap for development by breaking down the distinct knowledge, behaviors, attitudes, and skills that cultivate effective leadership.

Looking Ahead

Graphic of Promise Project phasesPhase one includes launching Paths to new students and transfers. This pilot group will inform how we approach the expansion of Paths to the entire community; this may include capacity skills-based paths and community-based paths that support groups like Cal Poly Scholars or student leadership groups. 

In later phases, the Promise Project will develop a strategic care network to connect students to services that support every aspect of their Cal Poly journey, from health and wellbeing, to academic counseling, basic needs support and more. Phase three, meanwhile, will focus on developing data intelligence tools that allow Student Affairs staff to further refine engagements and other experiences. 


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