Advancing Access at the Clinton Global Initiative

June 20, 2016

By Allie Ciaramella, Communications Manager   

College access and student success advocates showed up in force at last week’s Clinton Global Initiative America meetings in Atlanta, and NCAN was proud to see several familiar faces joining the crowd of nearly 1,000 leaders from the business, philanthropy, nonprofit and government sectors.

ECMC Group, uAspire, College Forward and College Possible were among our members who each made a new, specific and measurable “Commitment to Action” to support economic growth and opportunity.

ECMC Group launched Spanish versions of its College Abacus and Pell Abacus websites. uAspire vowed to decrease student debt and increase degree completion by building a new fellow program and policy division. And College Forward and College Possible expanded promising programs to retain and graduate underserved students.

President Bill Clinton was on hand for the “important moment” in College Possible’s 16-year history, the organization said. Its Founder and CEO Jim McCorkell announced plans to double, and perhaps triple, the number of campuses on which College Possible is present within five years, by working closely with institutions to embed its model on individual campuses. To do so, the group must secure $20 million in additional one-time funding.


College Possible Founder and CEO Jim McCorkell and President Bill Clinton at last week’s Clinton Global Initiative America meetings.

In a departure from College Possible’s established processes, rather than following individual students from high school into higher education, the project will use institutions’ own resources to recruit, hire and manage near-peer coaches. “These college teams will then deliver the College Possible approach on their campuses,” McCorkell said, “building students’ financial literacy and study skills and helping them tackle the social adjustments to college life and whatever challenges come their way.”

College Forward announced another multi-year plan -- three years, to be precise -- to increase degree attainment, this time in the Lone Star State.

It will expand College Forward’s Success Partnerships program, in which the Austin-based nonprofit works with two- and four-year college staff, faculty and administrators to provide their most under-resourced students with individualized and culturally relevant academic, financial and socio-economic mentoring. New tools, training and technology will help those colleges adopt best mentoring practices.

Institutions already in the program have reported “significant increases in performance and persistence,” College Forward notes; its students enter higher education at twice the statewide average and earn degrees at more than five times the rate of their economically disadvantaged peers. The expansion aims to triple the number of partnerships in Texas to serve upward of 7,400 more first-generation and low-income students.

College Forward Executive Director Austin Buchan called the opportunity an “enormous honor,” and said his organization is “thrilled to make this commitment and leverage 13 years of experience to advance student success on a much larger scale.”

uAspire, meanwhile, aims to leverage partnerships, trainings and convenings to influence education and government leaders working on college affordability issues.

The Boston-based nonprofit promised to create an Affordability Fellow Program, which will train 20 people to impact 25,000 youth in their partner organizations. uAspire also vowed to build a Policy Division, whose new policy team and strategic plan will “drive systemic change that will decrease student debt and increase degree completion for American youth.”

The Lumina Foundation, Edwin Gould Foundation and ECMC Foundation are among uAspire’s partners in the endeavor.

Speaking of the latter supporter: Access advocates and their students from Alaska to Alabama can benefit from ECMC Group’s commitment, announced last Monday.

It launched Spanish language versions of the College Abacus and Pell Abacus websites, which help families compare their higher education options. CollegeÁ and PellÁ are the first Spanish financial aid sites to use data from the Education Department’s College Scorecard.

“Researching and understanding your college financial aid options is daunting for most people, but it can be especially overwhelming for first-generation students and parents who are non-native English speakers," said Abigail Seldin, College Abacus co-founder and vice president of innovation and product management at ECMC. "We're making it easier for the tens of millions of Spanish-speaking households in America to not only identify the best schools for their budgets, but navigate the college search process as a family unit.”

Congratulations to all our members who were present at last week’s convening!

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