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July 7, 2021

Expanding Promise Symposium Day 2: Financial Sustainability for College Promise Programs Tailored for Specific Populations

On June 9th, 2021, College Promise and ETS held day two of the Expanding Promise Symposium, a virtual event centered around the findings of five research design teams examining the wrap-around supports and financial sustainability solutions that best aid and enable different groups of students to enter and persist to, through, and beyond college into living-wage jobs and community life. The symposium brought together students, researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and other Promise stakeholders to review and discuss scholarly insights for five key student populations: First-Generation Students, Youth In or Aged-Out of Foster Care, Students with Disabilities, Student Parents, and Students Needing Academic Support.

The second day of the symposium focused on Promise financial sustainability for programs implementing tailored student supports. Following opening remarks from Catherine Millett, Senior Researcher at ETS, the event was kicked off by leaders from each of the research design teams with SPARK Talks on Financing the Five College Promise Ecosystems. Each representative discussed the unique challenges of the student population studied by their design team and offered recommendations on solutions programs could prioritize funding for.

  • Adnan Bokhari from the National Immigration Law Center represented the First Generation Students design team and shared the specific barriers First Generation Students face along with recommendations for financing and funding efforts to reduce these barriers.
  • Angelique Day from the University of Washington represented the Students In or Aged Out of Foster Care research team. Day encouraged participants to build communities of support around foster students telling them to, “rally together and support… opportunities to maximize college success of our foster students.”
  • Nate Johnson of Postsecondary Analytics represented the Student Parents research team. He shared that 28% of community college students with children have reported lack of child care as a likely cause for withdrawal, illustrating a need for colleges to provide either child care or increased schedule flexibility.
  • Drew Allen, Associate Vice President of Institutional Data Analytics at Georgetown University, spoke on behalf of the Students Needing Academic Support research team, and stressed the need to reallocate funding to guide students throughout their post secondary journey. He also championed embracing change and reforming the traditional methods of teaching institutions currently in place, as well as restructuring placement tests, expanding academic support services, and addressing the stigma related to needing academic support.
  • Richard Allegra from the National Center for College Students with Disabilities, represented the Students with Disabilities research team. Allegra’s SPARK Talk reminded participants of the additional expenses borne by students with disabilities which are often largely covered out of pocket. He recommended schools examine the specific needs of their student populations and proactively allocate funding to provide appropriate supports or accommodations.

The next session, Financing the Promise of Affordable College, was moderated by Michael Nettles, Senior Vice President & Edmund W. Gordon Chair of the Policy Evaluation and Research at ETS, who was joined by Wil Del Pilar, Vice President of Higher Education Policy and Practice at Ed Trust, Kevin James, Founder and CEO of Better Future Forward, Jenna Sablan, Senior Policy Analyst at State Higher Education Executive Officers, and Edward J. Smith, Program Officer at The Kresge Foundation. These knowledge navigators provided their insights, strategies, and suggestions for how to finance College Promise programs and ensure college affordability.

Martha Kanter, CEO of College Promise, then moderated In Conversation: Foundation Perspectives on the Role of College Promise in Supporting Different Student Populations, featuring panelists LaVerne Srinivasan, Vice President of the National Programs at Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Peter Taylor, President of the ECMC Foundation. The panel elaborated on strategies to fund College Promise Programs and offered their personal perspectives and insights as high-level executives.

The day concluded with remarks from special guest Michelle Asha Cooper, Acting Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. She spoke about the importance of College Promise programs and their impact on the students and communities they serve. Cooper highlighted four federal policy priorities in line with the goals of the College Promise movement: 1) successful recovery from the pandemic, including a reset on the assets and reforms needed to increase student success and strengthen the American educational system, 2) making college affordable, 3) doubling the Pell grant program to enable low-income students to afford college, and 4) investing in wraparound support services for all students.

To watch the full day of sessions, find the recording here. To learn more about the ETS, College Promise, and College Promise Ecosystems initiatives, visit the event webpage here.

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