CCO Celebrates Half a Century of Transforming College Students to Transform the World

June 14, 2021

PITTSBURGH TheCoalition for Christian Outreach (CCO, celebrates its 50th anniversary of Christian outreach to college students this year by reflecting on the foundational elements that have made it a success throughout the years, giving all glory to God.

“By focusing on transforming college students to transform the world—our vision is to see a generation of college students transformed by the power of Jesus Christ and His Gospel, in partnership with the local church, reaching the world for the glory of God,” says Dan Dupee, former chairman of the board for CCO.

The CCO 50th Anniversary website features the three foundational pillars on which CCO’s success is built: Gospel, Church, and Vision.

Gospel: Starting in 1971, when four CCO staff members reached out to students at five campuses within 200 miles of Pittsburgh, PA, up to today, with more than 300 staff and associates, CCO now reaches students on dozens of campuses across the United States.

Church: Since the very beginning, the CCO has been committed to connecting college students to the Church, setting them up to be life-long disciples of Jesus Christ.

Vision: CCO creditsitspartnership with local churches as a key element in accomplishing their vision of seeing a generation of college students transformed by the power of Jesus Christ and His Gospel, reaching the world for the glory of God.

“I would say that the overriding theme throughout all these years is: ‘this is something that we’re doing together—we are a Coalition,’” says Dupee.

Over the last 50 years, through CCO’s close partnership with local churches, CCO has introduced and fostered within college students this vision for how they might serve Jesus Christ with their entire lives. This long legacy is evident in the life and witness of Gary Travis, who’s been involved with CCO since the beginning—he became a Christian one week after the CCO was born!

“My older brother attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) five years earlier but lost his faith during college; I didn’t want the same thing to happen to me,” said Travis.

It didn’t. In fact, thanks to CCO, the opposite occurred. This was the CCO’s first fall on campus, and Dave Diehl, one of the first staff people, was there when Gary arrived as a freshman on campus at IUP. In Dave, Gary found a friend and mentor and was introduced to a group of like-minded students. They connected with one another by a living faith in Jesus, who was changing lives all around them.

What Gary didn’t know then was that, 50 years later, he would still find accountability and friendship within this group of believers. Now retired after teaching music for 38 years in the Philadelphia Public Schools, Gary volunteers as a CCO Associate and is still connected with his fellow IUP CCO students and staff, serving at Drexel University as a volunteer with CCO.


Because looking back 50 years down the road, I haven’t forgotten what it meant to have Christian fellowship and mentors during my formative years,” says Travis.

For 50 years,CCO staff have reached out to college students by entering into their world. CCO staff are on the college campus every day, meeting students where they are—at athletic practices, in cafeterias, student centers, coffee shops, residence halls, and sometimes even classrooms.

But this is only part of the story. CCO alsopartners with local churches, so college students who connect to CCO ministries find themselves integrated into the life of their local church, where they worship in a multi-generational congregation, participate in Sunday school classes, and get to know church members over meals.

“Gary’s experience shows the lasting benefits of this coalition approach,” says Dupee. “College students trained by a CCO ministry are equipped to be life-long church members and leaders. They learn what it means to be a part of the larger body of Christ.”

Click here to view a video about the impact of CCO on graduates, 50 years later.

The college and university campus are the most strategic mission fields in the world, with only 2% of students being reached with the Gospel. CCO partners with local church congregations to help students feel a sense of belonging. A community is formed between the CCO staff and students, who are invited into the lives of local congregations. Through this community of fellowship, CCO is able to minister to the students in a life-changing way.


To interview Dan Dupee or for more information about the Coalition for Christian Outreach, contact, Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.