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Remove Structural Barriers to Success

Our philanthropy focuses on reducing or eliminating institutional and systemic barriers for underrepresented postsecondary education learners so they can achieve their academic and career goals.

Students from low incomes learn on laptops.

How We See the Problem

Today’s learners often aren’t well served by the educational systems that were built years ago for more traditional students. Now students are often older, more diverse, working one or more jobs, raising families, and struggling to make ends meet.

Colleges and universities are complex, and often don’t have a student-centric approach to course offerings or availability, advising and other institutional policies. The problem shows in the equity gaps in completion rates: just 11% of low-income students graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Almost 6 times as many students — 58% overall — from higher-income households graduate.

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Our Three Investment Priorities

Grants to Remove Structural Barriers to Success

Innovations in Proactive Communication and Support for STEM Success

Brown University|$750,000|9/2023 - 8/2027
This grant supports the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University in assessing the impact of a tech-enabled, academic support innovation targeting students’ STEM gateway course success and persistence at Georgia State University.

Strong Start to Finish - Accelerating Scaled Implementation

Education Commission of the States|$2,500,000|9/2022 - 12/2026
This grant supports Education Commission of the States, through its Strong Start to Finish initiative, in accelerating the implementation of complex developmental education reforms at scale in up to eight state higher education systems.

Project Success Formative and Summative Assessment

Achieving the Dream Inc|$400,000|7/2023 - 6/2026
This grant supports Achieving the Dream in evaluating Project Success at its partner Tribal Colleges and Universities. The two-part assessment will provide critical lessons for Achieving the Dream, the participating institutions and the broader field on implementing student-facing practices.

Accelerating Just Transformation in the Foundational Postsecondary Experience

John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education|$1,000,000|12/2022 - 6/2026
This grant supports the Gardner Institute, through the Accelerating Just Transformation in the Foundational Postsecondary Experience (TFPE) project, in working with cohorts of colleges with growing populations of first-generation, low-income and minoritized student populations to redesign the first-year student experience. TFPE will enable institutions to redesign practices that impede success for learners from low-income backgrounds and identify and act on targeted reforms to promote equitable student success.

Addressing Inequity in College Retention of Low-Income Students: Collaboratively Creating Pathways to Careers in Four-Year Degree Programs

Yes We Must Coalition|$2,500,000|6/2023 - 5/2026
This grant supports the Yes We Must Coalition in helping 10 member institutions adopt reforms to strengthen career advising and outcomes for learners. Participating institutions will redesign one to two bachelor's degree pathways to better connect learning with career opportunities in those fields of study.

Sustaining and Scaling Equitable Educational Practices

Tennessee Board of Regents-The College System of Tennessee |$1,456,400|5/2023 - 4/2026
This grant supports the Tennessee Board of Regents, the governing body for the College System of Tennessee, in scaling high impact practices and applying learning mindset research to create more supportive classrooms throughout the system.

Supporting Provosts for Student Success Transformation in State Systems

Sova Solutions|$1,773,700|9/2023 - 3/2026
This grant supports Sova, in partnership with the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, in accelerating institutional student success reforms in four states by aligning those reforms with state-level policy and creating a network of state teams to provide cross-state learning and support.

Scaling the Leadership Academy for Student Success

New Venture Fund|$1,062,925|12/2022 - 12/2025
This grant supports National Center for Inquiry and Improvement (NCII) in replicating the Ohio Leadership Academy for Student Success in two to three additional states. NCII will work with selected states to implement key elements of the Ohio model for providing targeted training for leaders within community colleges, thereby building state- and system-level capacity to implement wide-scale strategies for student success.

Scaling Academic Recovery Interventions

University Innovation Alliance|$2,500,000|12/2022 - 6/2025
This grant supports the University Innovation Alliance in scaling Georgia State University’s Accelerator Academy program to 10 member institutions. The Accelerator Academy, comprising a suite of comprehensive interventions with demonstrated success, will allow institutions to target students at risk of falling behind or not completing a degree due to a D, F or W (Withdrawn) in critical coursework.

Building a Movement to Implement Corequisite Models of Support in Illinois

Partnership for College Completion|$750,000|6/2023 - 6/2025
This grant supports the Partnership for College Completion in working with a cohort of Illinois colleges to implement developmental education reforms as required by the Developmental Education Reform Act passed by the state legislature in 2021. Partnership for College Completion will support institutions in designing and implementing multiple measures placement practices and building capacity for continuous improvement through data literacy and change management.

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