Historic Alliance to Increase College Opportunities for Disadvantaged Youth
A group of national education reform leaders, joined by U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and National Economics Advisor Gene Sperling, announced last month the launch of the new Pathways to College Network, a historic alliance of major private and corporate foundations, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and the U.S. Department of Education. With funding commitments from its own executive committee expected to total nearly $2 million over the first three years, Pathways participants will engage in an unprecedented effort to improve preparation for — and access to — higher education for under-represented students from low-income families.
“This is an extraordinary coalition,” explains Riley. “These are the people who run the schools, lead the colleges, make the entrance exams and who give children an extra boost into college. They are agreeing, jointly, to use conclusive research to evaluate what they are doing and to improve and coordinate their efforts.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education:
n Only 47 percent of low-income high school graduates immediately enroll in college or trade school, compared to 82 percent of high-income students.
n Only 18 percent of African Americans and 19 percent of Hispanic high school graduates earn a bachelor’s degree by their late twenties, compared to 35 percent of Whites.
n Approximately 22 percent of college-qualified high school graduates from low family incomes do not pursue postsecondary education, compared to only 4 percent of high-income graduates.
In order to resolve this serious disparity, the Pathways to College Network is bringing together researchers, policy analysts, educators, K-12 administrators, government, businesses and community-based organizations. Together, they will seek to identify the most effective means of preparing under-represented youth for college success and help this range of constituencies incorporate that information into their work.
Startup funding for the initiative comes from six national foundations that each underwrite programs to increase educational preparedness, opportunities and achievements for students from under-represented communities. The six include the GE Fund, the James Irvine Foundation, the Ford Foundation,
Lucent Technologies Foundation, KnowledgeWorks Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education also provides financial support. The funds will be administered by the Education Resources Institute in Boston in collaboration with Occidental College in Los Angeles.
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