Despite some progress, large equity gaps persist in postsecondary access and attainment, with students from low-income high schools completing college at less than half the rate of their peers from high-income schools. NCAN’s board and staff had this front of mind as we worked this year to craft a new strategic plan to chart our course into our 25th anniversary year (2020) and beyond. I’m pleased to share some of the top-line highlights with you in this blog, with the promise of much more detail and engagement to come soon.
NCAN’s vision is that all students have an equitable opportunity to achieve social and economic mobility through higher education. NCAN exists to address this gap, with the mission to build, strengthen, and empower communities and stakeholders to close equity gaps in postsecondary attainment for all students.
What We Want to Achieve
NCAN pursues this mission by building network capacity, advocating for policy solutions, and supporting systems change.
Over the next three years, NCAN will focus on three goals to grow its impact:
Deepen the impact of the NCAN network, resulting in increased college enrollment and completion for students served by NCAN members.
Influence supportive federal and state policy, resulting in more federal and state bills passed and regulations enacted that advance NCAN’s policy priorities and close postsecondary equity gaps.
Expand systemic and field impact, resulting in a growing number of school districts and higher education institutions implementing leading practice to promote postsecondary access and success for historically underserved students.
How We Plan to Get There
We have defined nine strategies necessary for accomplishing our intended impact:
Support member organizations to help them reach the next stage of effectiveness for students.
Better inform members about the latest issues, such as career success, FAFSA completion, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Support stronger partnerships among community-based organizations, school districts, and colleges and universities.
Advocate for federal and state policies proven to increase equity in student outcomes.
Help more members and students tell their stories to policymakers and ask for change.
Rally business and community leaders in support of students.
Help school districts, and colleges and universities adopt effective postsecondary access and success strategies for students.
Elevate NCAN’s thought leadership to reach a wider audience.
Promote effective multisector collaboration at the community level.
What This Means For Our Members
So, vision, mission, goals, and strategies are important frames for our work, but what will this look like in our day-to-day work with our members?
You’ll continue to see many of the services and supports that you enjoy today, such as the annual conference, weekly Success Digest, and policy updates, but NCAN staff have been hard at work to deepen those supports and to respond to evolving program needs with new tools. For example, you’ll soon be invited to use a new self-assessment tool, our Member Capacity Framework, to help you build organizational capacity using tools, supports, and peer convenings targeted to your organizational needs. We’ll ask more of our members to share their voice – and the voices of students – on key policy issues at both the federal and state levels. We will think beyond programs to systems change to help more district and higher education partners adopt strategies that support success for our students.
NCAN will also make organizational investments to support our new strategy. We will add the necessary staffing and operations capacity; advance our own diversity, equity, and inclusion journey; and refresh our brand to communicate our focus on closing equity gaps in postsecondary attainment.