YOU@CSU wins national innovation award; participation numbers rising

The YOU@CSU program has received a national award for innovative, technology-based solutions to challenges in higher education.

The online portal connecting students to resources and skill-building for their health, well-being and education was one of only five winners of the 2018 WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) Outstanding Work award, or WOW award. WICHE stands for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, which created the cooperative 30 years ago to meet a growing need to integrate distance education and educational technology into the academic services of higher ed institutions in the West.

smartphone screensThe award will be presented at WCET’s annual meeting, being held in Portland, Oregon, Oct. 23-25.

About the program

The goal of YOU@CSU, developed with Grit Digital Health and launched in spring 2016, was to provide a scalable, personalized tool available any time to increase grit, resilience, coping strategies and mental health literacy to promote academic success. The objectives were to increase student self-awareness and provide early intervention and connection to campus resources related to students’ academic, physical and mental health. The portal was designed to have resources that span three domains: Succeed – academic and career success; Thrive – physical and mental well-being; and Matter – campus involvement and connections. The portal uses personalization to cater specific content to each student and includes engaging screening tools that keep students on track in respects to their academics, health and campus involvement.

“YOU@CSU is a great partnership between CSU and Grit Digital Health,” said Jody Donovan, CSU dean of students. “We’re able to deliver important student success content in a personalized, online format that is accessible 24/7 when students need it. I’m proud CSU was involved in the creation of this student success platform that many universities and colleges are now adopting.”

YOU@CSU web page
Click to enlarge this screen shot of a YOU@CSU web page.

Rising visibility

Awareness of YOU@CSU among students has been growing, and CSU officials hope to increase its visibility among faculty and staff. The site saw a 700 percent increase in usage the first two weeks after it was added to single sign-on and linked to RAMweb early last spring. On the first day that there was a RAMweb link and notification, 1,248 students visited the site. And there were twice as many YOU@CSU registrations in summer 2018 than in summer 2017.

“Our students are definitely learning about it,” said Janelle Patrias, manager of mental health initiatives and project lead for YOU@CSU. “We’re seeing that reflected in the numbers.”

She added that the convenience of YOU@CSU is key.

“YOU@CSU offers everything in one place,” she said. “Our students are digital natives, so if they’re going to be online anyway, we’d like them to use our CSU-specific tools.”

From 2016 to 2018, YOU@CSU has had over 46,000 unique visitors, and more than 10,000 screening assessments have been completed. About 75 percent of students have reported that because of using the portal, they are better able to manage their stress. And around 98 percent of first-year users reported learning new skills, tips, and resources to support their academics as well as their physical and mental health.

Other WOW winners

The other four winners of the WOW award were Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide’s WRAP (Worldwide Retention, Affinity, and Persistence); Colorado Technical University’s CTU Faculty App; the Open SUNY Course Quality Review (OSCQR) Rubric, Dashboard, and Resources; and the University of Montana’s EdReady Montana: Scaling a Low-Cost College Readiness Initiative Statewide.

“Each and every year, the WOW Awards committee has a challenging task to review outstanding proposals from across the country to select our final award recipients,” said Kara Monroe, vice president for academic innovation and support at Ivy Tech Community College and chair of the WOW Awards committee. “This year’s five award recipients represent the entire 2018 class of proposals as an outstanding reflection of the innovation, quality, leadership and vision needed to help students, faculty and institutions succeed in higher education today.”

For more information about the platform used to create YOU@CSU, visit