NCAN, NCLC and Scholarship America Launch New Voices Coalition

August 15, 2016

By Carrie Warick, Director of Partnerships and Policy 

The National College Access Network, the National Campus Leadership Council and Scholarship America are joining together to launch the New Voices Coalition, to recruit, train and mobilize a cadre of new voices of access and success practitioners, campus leaders, and private scholarship providers and volunteers. Fueled by observations that the status quo is more represented than change agents in conversations around financial aid reform, the Coalition will join together to increase the strength of their messages. 

In today’s policy conversations, the voice of the “status quo” and the voice of institutions of higher education are more engaged with policymakers and influencers than the voices of those working directly with students and families and advocating for changes to make the current system and processes more responsive to the needs of low-income and first-generation students. Many times, these advisors, counselors, volunteers and student leaders do not even consider themselves to be advocates in the policy forum.  

The New Voices Coalition aims to reach these untapped resources to make them aware of their important role in advocating at new levels for students, support this role with training and resource materials as well as a forum to connect with other new advocates, and craft opportunities to mobilize these new advocates and their powerful voices in issue campaigns, relationship-building with policy-makers and staff and media/social media messaging and engagement.

“This training will allow Scholarship America to engage in critical Congressional districts across the country,” said Mimi Larson, Scholarship America’s senior vice president of marketing and public policy. “With our large network of volunteers, advocacy training will equip our staff and volunteers with the knowledge and tools on how to effectively engage with local, state and national elected officials. This becomes increasingly critical as the need for public engagement is necessary for continued dialogue regarding the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. As conversations continue one of our goals includes reforming and simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to increase accessibility for the students who need it most.”

The coalition will begin its work with an Advocacy Institute and policy track at NCAN’s national conference in Detroit. More than 100 college access practitioners, student leaders, scholarship providers, and state leaders will join together to enhance their skills in the advocacy arena. After this training, the coalition will stay engaged through coordination among the national partners, to bring support for issues affecting low-income students and students of color at the postsecondary level.

"I'm thrilled for NCLC to join the New Voices Coalition through NCAN's Advocacy Institute,” said Andy MacCracken, Executive Director and Co-founder of the NCLC. “It's so critical for us to connect and train the leaders of the various communities that can truly shift the dialogue on college access and completion. While national officials deal with elections, student leaders and community leaders are coming together to drive change for future generations of students.

More information about the New Voices Coalition is available online. The coalition is made possible with the generous support from the Federal Financial Aid Advocacy Fund housed at HCM Strategists.

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The National College Access Network celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, affirming our mission that all students, regardless of income, age, race, or ethnicity, deserve an equal opportunity for a college education. Underrepresented students often must navigate the college pathway without adequate financial resources, guidance, or a strong college-going culture in their high schools. NCAN works to overcome these barriers so students can gain the postsecondary credentials they need to embark on successful careers and build America’s future. 

The National Campus Leadership Council (NCLC) provides a venue for student body presidents and their teams to come together and confront exigent issues facing our generation. They work with a broad network of current and former student body presidents to share best practices, identify innovative solutions, and generate greater expertise to ensure young leaders are effective stakeholders and spokespeople on campus and beyond. Since their 2012 launch, NCLC has empowered more than 2,000 student body presidents at more than 500 institutions through skills trainings, policy workshops, and coalition building.

A nonprofit organization with more than a 50-year legacy, Scholarship America’s mission is to mobilize America through scholarships and emergency aid programs to make postsecondary success possible for all students. As the nation’s largest provider of private scholarships, Scholarship America has distributed $3.1 billion to more than 2 million students and currently supports more than 13,000 custom scholarship and aid programs for local communities, businesses, foundations, associations, nonprofits and philanthropic individuals. Scholarship America’s reach is enhanced by its Scholarship Management Services division, which manages and administers scholarship and education assistance programs for more than 1,200 corporations, foundations and individuals internationally.

Communications Manager Allie Ciaramella contributed to this report.

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