Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Invest $100M to Boost Student Success
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- The funding will go to six intermediaries that work directly with colleges.
- Those six organizations collectively reach nearly 900 institutions and more than half of all postsecondary students in the country.
- The foundation said that the investment reflects a core belief that colleges and universities are essential actors for change.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will invest $100 million in six nonprofit organizations as part of its ongoing efforts to transform higher education.
The investment "reflects our core beliefs that students must be at the center of all we do in higher education, that racial and socioeconomic equity must be our 'north stars,' and that colleges and universities are essential actors for change," Patrick Methvin, the director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Postsecondary Success in the United States Program, said in a Sept. 15 blog post announcing the investment.
Over the next five years, the foundation will disperse the $100 million to these intermediary nonprofits dedicated to supporting students and closing equity gaps:
- American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), an association of roughly 400 public colleges and universities
- American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), which advocates for Tribal Colleges and Universities
- Complete College America, an advocacy organization that looks to cut back on institutional inequities and systemic barriers in higher education
- Excelencia in Education, a group that works to increase Latino student success in higher education
- Growing Inland Achievement, an education collaborative that advocates for educational and economic equality in California's Inland Empire region
- United Negro College Fund (UNCF), a group that provides financial support to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and provides thousands of scholarships each year
The six organizations in which the foundation is investing collectively reach nearly 900 institutions and more than half of all postsecondary students in the country, Methvin said. Over the next five years, these intermediaries will support at least 250 diverse colleges and universities in transformation planning and execution.
UNCF President and CEO Michael L. Lomax said in a statement that the foundation’s investment will advance “the proven strategies of UNCF's Institute for Capacity Building in ushering the next phase of Black colleges and universities."
"Advancing Black higher education through institutional transformation is in UNCF’s DNA," Lomax said.
UNCF represents a broad range of HBCUs and predominantly Black institutions (PBIs) and plans to expand to include more than 50 institutions in 2023. Ed Smith-Lewis, the head of the UNCF Institute for Capacity Building and the organization's vice president of strategic partnerships and institutional programs, pointed out that the schools UNCF supports have always done a lot more with a lot less.
"They graduate more Black students who go on to lift, not only their families, but entire communities," he said. "Now, we're about to show the world just how much Black colleges and universities can teach the rest of higher education to support the success of all their students in institutionalizing educational equity."
The AASCU also heralded the foundation’s investment.
"The level of support is significant and means that AASCU member institutions will continue to lead the nation on postsecondary student success for America’s new majority at state colleges and universities," AASCU President Mildred García said in a statement.
It has already selected 19 institutions to participate in its Student Success Equity Intensive (SSEI), which accelerates institutional transformation by providing customized support for making data-informed decisions grounded in students’ realities.
"For over 50 years, AASCU has partnered with member institutions to deliver on America’s promise of access, affordability, and educational opportunity," said García. "The Student Success Equity Intensive articulates an equity imperative to help everyone see their role in ensuring success for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and low-income students."