We are aiming to increase the number of currently enrolled students from historically and presently underserved backgrounds who attain a bachelor’s degree.
A 2016 Georgetown University study estimated that 99% of jobs created in the last economic recovery went to workers with some education beyond high school. This makes college degree attainment more important than ever as we rebuild the economy and higher education after the COVID-19 pandemic. But for students who have been systemically locked out of higher education—including students of color, first-generation students and low-income students—there are significant barriers to enrolling in, attending and graduating from college.
Prior to the pandemic, 70% of students from high-income families earned a bachelor's degree by age 25, while only 12% of students from low-income families managed to do the same. Research indicates that the pandemic may have worsened these trends. Although most low-income students begin their postsecondary education at community colleges, only 14% of community college students transfer to a university and complete a bachelor's degree within six years. There are also significant racial disparities in postsecondary persistence and completion, with less than half of Black, Latinx, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students completing their degrees within six years, compared with 67% of White students and 72% of Asian students.
To this end, College Success focuses on supporting students enrolled in college-credit programs, with an emphasis on investing in postsecondary programs and initiatives that:
- Improve and scale systemic reforms and supports to increase the success of currently enrolled college students at postsecondary institutions.
- Increase postsecondary students' persistence toward a degree.
- Support on-time transfer from two-year to four-year institutions.
- Enhance students' pathways to graduation with career-ready skills.
- Elevate new research findings and publications that promote student success outcomes.
Current Funding Priorities
College Success currently focuses its grantmaking toward programs, institutional networks, research and policy that address the following priorities:
- Addressing basic needs: support system-wide efforts to increase students' access to food, housing, childcare, mental health, financial assistance, transportation, and other basic needs.
- Improving credit mobility and transfer: support on-time transfer from community colleges to universities and drive policy changes to reduce credit loss, improve credit mobility and increase transparency around the transfer process.
- Enhancing student-centered supports: provide holistic, targeted, and culturally competent supports that address multiple aspects of a student's postsecondary experience (academic, financial, socioemotional).
- Reforming systemic approaches to enhance completion: scale proven institutional and systemic practices, such as remediation reform or sustainable financing, that increase student success and reduce barriers to degree completion.
In addition to our ongoing grantmaking, College Success has made significant investments in coalition efforts working to move the needle on key issues:
As the first national postsecondary education funder to address basic needs among college students with a designated grantee cohort, ECMC Foundation provided $3.1 million to support BNI, a wide array of projects that aim to increase students' access to such basic needs as food, housing, childcare, mental health, financial assistance and transportation.
Transfer credit losses hinder students from completing their degree, contribute to greater student debt and saddle federal financial aid programs with greater inefficiency. ECMC Foundation provided $4.5 million to launch CTI and support the development and wider adoption of clear and equitable transfer agreements, ensuring less credit loss for students. CTI specifically aims to increase the number of Black and Latinx community college students transferring to and graduating from four-year programs.