After Strong Year, NCAN Moves Forward with New Strategic Plan

November 8, 2016

By Allie Ciaramella, Communications Manager

As the National College Access Network reflects on a strong year capped off by our most highly attended national conference ever, we’re also looking to the future. Central to that is a new three-year strategic plan that emphasizes student outcomes and policymaking, while leaving NCAN’s core mission unchanged. 

“We remain committed to the original mission of NCAN and we will moving forward,” Executive Director Kim Cook said at the September conference in Detroit, Michigan.

Through much research, deliberation and feedback from NCAN members and partners, we determined that we’re on track to continue helping underrepresented students achieve their educational dreams, but with a refined strategy. We considered, for instance, recent changes in the field as well as anticipated developments, such as increased emphasis within the college access and success community on career readiness.

Our plan contains two overarching goals: to promote high-quality services to support equitable outcomes for students, and to champion practice-informed federal and state policy. We will achieve these goals through four strategic objectives: 

  1. Enhance the capacity of the college access and success field by providing high-quality data, innovative ideas and accessible tools

  2. Bolster the skills and competencies of college access and success leaders and practitioners by advancing NCAN’s programmatic offerings

  3. Advocate for improved college completion rates by amplifying a range of policy solutions and increasing member engagement

  4. Foster relationships within communities and across sectors that support college access and success for underrepresented students

NCAN is already implementing the plan, and will continue to do so through 2018.

As our Board Vice President Gloria Nemerowicz reported at the annual membership meeting, held at our 21st national conference, “NCAN is very financially healthy.” NCAN finished fiscal year 2016 with positive net revenue a membership renewal rate of 88 percent.

“The state of NCAN is strong, with a solid organization of growing membership and robust list of funders and supporters,” Cook said at the meeting.

NCAN saw significant grant support and re-granting last year, including funding for some new, exciting projects. The Kresge Foundation became the lead funder on our new national FAFSA completion campaign Form Your Future, and NCAN also launched the Kresge FAFSA Challenge, which provided $1.2 million in regrants to 22 cities. USA Funds awarded us a $400,000 one-year grant to provide additional professional development and member services related to helping underrepresented students graduate from high school prepared to succeed both in college and on the job. And thanks to a two-year grant of $400,000 from ECMC Foundation, NCAN can expand and more widely distribute its e-learning program, Fundamentals for College Access & Success Providers.

At the same time, we built upon numerous existing initiatives thanks to generous funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, College Futures Foundation, HCM Strategists, Houston Endowment, Lumina Foundation, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Mott Foundation, and the Kauffman Foundation.

Another sign of health is NCAN’s ability to grow, Nemerowicz said; we moved to a new, bigger office last year and added two full-time staff members.

Our Board of Directors is growing, too; members in September voted to add Lori McFarling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Discovery Education. Also at the conference, Revolution Impact Founder & CEO Pranav Kothari ended his four-year run as board chair (though he’ll remain a member) and was replaced by former vice chair Marlene Ibsen, president and CEO of Travelers Foundation.

We at NCAN look forward to another exciting year and extend thanks to our members, who provide crucial services for underserved students in their areas and in neighborhoods across the country, day in and day out. Without your support, NCAN could not do this work.

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