Gates Rolls Out First College-Completion Grants

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced today an initial set of grants totaling $69 million as part of its recently unveiled initiative Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to double college-completion rates for low-income students.

Over the next four years, the foundation is prepared to commit up to half a billion dollars to its postsecondary agenda, officials at the Seattle-based philanthropy said.

The first round of grants will focus on three areas: building commitment among policymakers and business and community leaders to increase postsecondary completion rates; improving the ability of institutions of higher learning to help struggling students at two- and four-year colleges finish their programs, especially through remedial education; and backing work by outside organizations to provide young people with the financial, social, and academic support they need to earn a postsecondary credential, according to a Gates Foundation press release.

Postsecondary Success Initiative Grants

Grants toward building commitment among key policymakers and business and community leaders ($8.9 million):

American Youth Work Center / Youth Today: The Newspaper on Youth Work $750,000 over 3 years

Center for Law and Social Policy $400,000 over 1 year

Demos: A Network for Ideas and Action $600,000 over 2 years

Institute for Women’s Policy Research $187,475 over 1 year

Jobs for America’s Graduates $50,000 over 1 year

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education $5.4 million over 3 years to support publication and marketing of the National Center’s 2008 Measuring Up report

The Future of Children $892,667 over 4 years

Public Agenda $469,954 over 1 year

Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education $212,150 over 1 year

Grants toward improving postsecondary education so students learn the skills they need more quickly ($33.2 million):

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce $2.9 million over 4 years

Harvard College $1.9 million over 4 years

Jobs for the Future $3.3 million over 3 years

Learning Point Associates $879,868 over 3 years

MDC $16.5 million over 4 years to identify the most promising work in remedial education being done by 15 community colleges and five states participating in the Achieving the Dream initiative.

University of California, Los Angeles $7.6 million over 5 years to support the University of California’s All Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity

Workforce Strategy Center $208,900 over 1 year

Grants toward strengthening student supports so more young people complete the postsecondary programs they start ($26.8 million):

The Forum for Youth Investment $1.2 million over 3 years

MDRC $13 million over 4 years

The Corps Network $750,000 over 1 year

National Youth Employment Coalition $5.6 million over 4 years

Ounce of Prevention Fund $305,719 over 1 year

YouthBuild USA, Somerville, MA $6 million over 3 years

Just last month, leaders at the Gates Foundation first announced plans to revamp the foundation’s grantmaking strategy for improving high school education and increasing graduation rates, and to embark on a new postsecondary initiative that aims eventually to double the number of low-income students who annually earn a postsecondary degree or credential by age 26.

“We are very excited about the ways in which this new [postsecondary] strategy complements the longstanding work of the foundation in high school reform,” Hilary Pennington, who is directing the postsecondary initiative, said in an interview.

Different Dimensions

The nearly two dozen grants will go to a variety of organizations and projects. For instance, MDC, a Chapel Hill, N.C.-based nonprofit group, will receive $16.5 million over four years to identify promising work in remedial education by states and community colleges.

The Ounce of Prevention Fund, a research and advocacy group based in Chicago, will receive $306,000 over one year to study existing supports and barriers to postsecondary education among young, low-income parents in Chicago, Denver, and Miami.

And the San Jose, Calif.-based National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education will receive $5.4 million over three years to support the publication and marketing of the center’s 2008 report, Measuring Up Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which profiles relative state performance in higher education affordability, completion rates, and other areas.

“We’re supporting organizations that are working on different dimensions of [the issue],” Ms. Pennington said. “We are hopeful this portfolio of grants will help us get a better understanding of what the most promising avenues for successful outcomes are.”

Vol. 28

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