By Mai P. Tran, ECMC Foundation
It turns out good weather and picturesque landscape are not the only reasons why people visit San Diego, a city best known for its near-perfect beaches.
Last week, more than 1,000 individuals from different regions of the country traveled to the beach town for an event they anticipated yearlong: NCAN 2017.
Professionals and leaders from across the spectrum: nonprofits, community and advocacy organizations, philanthropy and government came to share ideas and best practices for increasing college success—access, persistence and graduation rates—among students.
Hosted by the National College Access Network (NCAN), the annual conference offers plenaries and workshops, along with riveting keynote speakers. Among this year's speakers were BridgeEdu founder and newly appointed CEO of Robin Hood Foundation Wes Moore and The Campaign for College Opportunity President Michele Siqueiros. Each year, the latest research and best practices are shared, discussed and debated while professional development and networking opportunities are scheduled throughout the three days.
NCAN is a national membership organization with hundreds of members from almost every state who are committed to college access and success. Beyond the annual conference, the network provides professional development, networking, and resources, including webinars and accessible publications.
Among the impressive roster of organizations that attended NCAN's conference this year include the following ECMC Foundation grantee partners: Bottom Line, California Community Foundation, Campaign for College Opportunity, College Crusade of Rhode Island, College Forward, College Possible, Genesys Works, iMentor, LASIF, OneGoal, Opportunity Network, Roadtrip Nation, uAspire, University Innovation Alliance, among many others.
College Success team members Sarah Belnick and Angela Sanchez with Bottom Line's leadership team at NCAN 2017.
We caught up with a handful of our grantee partners before and after NCAN 2017 to ask them why they continue to attend the NCAN conference each year. Here's what they said.
Elizabeth Morgan, Director of External Relations at National College Access Network
"I have attended or worked at almost every NCAN conference since 2004, and it is still my favorite event of the year. Every year I am impressed to learn about new strategies and tactics that organizations have developed to reach more students and support students in achieving better postsecondary outcomes."
Morgan facilitated the Foundations and Funders roundtable at NCAN 2017.
Greg Johnson, Chief Operating Officer at Bottom Line
"We have been attending the NCAN conference for the past decade. Over the years, we have been energized by our peers and motivated by the shared successes and challenges of our friends and partners. We continue to attend because it's rare to have such a substantial gathering of the right people coming together to learn, share and refuel for the challenges we all face in the future."
Johhson's colleagues at Bottom Line, Founder and Chief Program Officer Dave Borgal and Chicago Executive Director Chris Broughton both presented at the conference this year.
Kelly King, Director, Los Angeles Scholars Investment Fund (LASIF) at California Community Foundation
"While the California Community Foundation is focused on Los Angeles County, NCAN always provides a fantastic experience to learn from diverse models and programs throughout the country. LA County is big and unique, but we know we also have lots to learn from our peer foundations, schools and nonprofits elsewhere."
King moderated the Postsecondary Access and Success for Young Men of Color panel at NCAN 2017.
Maria Carvahlo, Director of High School and Postsecondary Operations at College Crusade of Rhode Island
"I am always looking to learn about what is trending in the college access and success world, what are the common threads across the country, and what's new and who's doing it. The NCAN conference is the place to learn these things. The speakers offer motivation that reminds me why I do this work, and they bring data that provide 'aha!' moments about the size of the problem we are working to solve."
Traci Kirtley, Chief Program Officer at College Possible
"NCAN's annual conference gives us the chance to come together with practitioners from across the country. Discussing challenges and opportunities with people who share a commitment to this work–especially this year–provides us with great ideas and perhaps more importantly, inspiration and enthusiasm to continue advocating for our students."
ECMC Foundation's Partnership with NCAN
NCAN is a grantee partner of ECMC Foundation. In 2016, we made an investment to support the enhancement of its e-learning program, Fundamentals for College Access and Success Providers. Learn more about the program and about NCAN.
Did you enjoy this grantee spotlight? Read more grantee spotlights here.
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