Initiatives such as Completion by Design and the Frontier Set have shown that dramatically improving outcomes for today’s students – especially low-income and first-generation students, students of color, and working adults – takes more than “one off” changes in practice. It requires institutional transformation – fundamental change in culture, organizational structure, and business models and operations to address evolving student needs. Transforming institutions intentionally create cohesive and inclusive learning environments by emphasizing leadership, evidence-driven practice, and a commitment to continuous improvement.
Pressure is mounting for colleges and universities to transform – demand for an educated workforce is rising, financial pressures are intensifying, and public confidence is wavering. A growing number of institutions are embracing the need to transform, and they seek networking, resources, and guidance for their efforts.
Meet the Intermediaries
The foundation has identified six non-profit organizations – Intermediaries for Scale – that will work across diverse partners to serve transforming institutions as connectors, advisors, and strategists:
- American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU): A Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of nearly 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.
- American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC): AIHEC serves as the unifying voice of the Tribal Colleges and Universities as they strive to achieve excellence in Tribal higher education.
- Complete College America (CCA): A national advocacy organization, representing an alliance of 48 states and postsecondary systems, working to dramatically increase college completion rates and close institutional performance gaps through data-driven policy and practice.
- Excelencia in Education: A national organization that accelerates Latino student success in higher education to enhance our workforce, leadership, and economy.
- Growing Inland Achievement (GIA): A regional K-16 education collaborative that works to achieve economic and educational equity in California’s Inland Empire region.
- UNCF: A national membership organization dedicated to sustaining Historically Black Colleges and Universities while empowering the students and communities HBCUs serve.
These organizations have demonstrated commitment and experience in supporting institutions as they reduce college success disparities by race and income; promoting continuous learning and improvement through the use of data; and identifying, implementing, and evaluating significant campus-level changes in policy and practice.
How Intermediaries Will Work
The intermediaries will focus on four priorities:
- Increase awareness of successful and promising transformation strategies among campus leaders and communities.
- Inform key campus-level decisions about change options and strategies and supporting decision-makers.
- Support transformation by providing guidance and resources for adopting, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining changes in policy and practice.
- Build connections across colleges and universities and other supporting organizations to accelerate and streamline learning and sharing of promising practices.
In the initial phase of the work (two years), the intermediaries will build their capability to work with colleges and universities interested in student-centered transformation. This includes:
- Learning and applying tools such as institutional self-assessments and resources developed by the Postsecondary Data Partnership;
- Evaluating current capacity to provide guidance and technical assistance to colleges and universities (staffing/expertise, management, infrastructure) and identifying areas for expansion or improvement; and
- Developing a strategic plan for delivering support services to colleges and universities and working with partner organizations.
The goal is for intermediaries to collectively engage with at least 250 colleges and universities over the next five years in different but complementary ways.