20 School Districts to Become National College Access Network Members

September 10, 2018

Districts and nonprofits receive grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work together on improving postsecondary advising.

By Lindsay Broderick, Staff Writer

Twenty school districts and nonprofit organizations across 14 states are receiving grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the foundation's "To and Through" Advising Challenge. These grantees will work to improve the postsecondary outcomes of students by strengthening postsecondary advising, increasing access to financial aid, combating summer melt, and using data more effectively.

Each of the grantees will be awarded $75,000 for the 2018-19 school year and be provided with access to a yearlong community of practice. Grant recipients will receive individualized coaching and benefit from access to effective models, tools, and practices. Grantees will become NCAN members (though some are members already), receive technical assistance from NCAN staff and affiliated postsecondary advising and data coaches, and attend NCAN’s national conference in Pittsburgh from Sept. 24-26.

"We are grateful for this investment that will help bridge the space between K-12 and postsecondary education," NCAN Executive Director Kim Cook said. "By using expert NCAN member representatives as coaches, we will help school districts get real-world, practical expertise on what works for students and how to leverage all assets within the school and community to improve postsecondary advising, increase financial aid applications, reduce summer melt, and increase enrollment in institutions where students are more likely to succeed."

Collectively, the districts and organizations receiving awards serve a diverse group of 252,618 students in 247 high schools. Among these students, 70 percent receive free or reduced-price lunch.

Over the course of the academic year, grantees will report on students' Estimated Postsecondary Completion (a weighted average of institutional six-year outcomes by race/ethnicity), adopt a measurement framework using key predictive indicators, and analyze and disaggregate current student data. Coaches and NCAN staff will help grantees develop plans for implementation in the 2019-20 academic year. Most systemically, the challenge will find school leaders, counselors, educators, and community partners creating "an implementation plan to ensure systemic access to effective advising. This plan may include strengthened partnerships with college access organizations, higher education institutions, and other community supports."

Here are the "To and Through" Advising Challenge grantees:

NCAN thanks the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its generosity and for providing NCAN with the opportunity to support these organizations and school districts.

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