When President Obama invited leaders from higher education, nonprofits, and corporations to the White House for his first summit on college opportunity in January, he asked for voluntary commitments to help more young people get to and through college.
“You collectively have responded in a big way,” Obama told those gathered today nearly a year later for the second College Opportunity Day of Action in Washington. “This did not require a single piece of legislation, a single new stream of funding; what it required was a sense of urgency and a sense of focus.”
The administration released a progress report today with updates on what primarily colleges and universities pledged to do and the results to date. The initiatives centered on ways to attract more disadvantaged students to their campuses, finance their education, and help them succeed academically.
Among the progress reported:
• Georgia State University developed a financial-risk tracking system that helped identify students who were behind on their university bills and provided micro-grants to cover their balances and keep them in school. Within two semesters, 70 percent of the seniors who received the grants were able to graduate.
• Washington University in St. Louis raised $280 million to help students with financial aid and expanded incoming Pell-eligible students from 6 percent to 8 percent of its freshman class this year.
• Amherst College expanded recruiting of Native American students and plans to host a national college-access summit on serving this underrepresented population.
• Carnegie Mellon University launched a “Computer Science for All” initiative and 40 percent of its 2014 freshman class in the School of Computer Science were women, the largest percentage in the university’s history.
• Iowa State University opened a new Student Loan Education Office to help students learn how to effectively manage their money while pursuing a degree.
• Miami-Dade College in Florida helped more than 900 incoming students adjust to college academic life with its Basic Skills Boot Camps this fall, which helped students increase their math and English skills.
• College Summit, a nonprofit organization, partnered with school districts in the Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, to provide college access services to 700 students.
• The National Association for College Admission Counseling launched a new webinar series for school counselors, offered training in college-readiness counseling, and expanded the participation of disadvantaged students at its National College Fair program.
Today’s meeting generated another 600 commitments from participants that represent a broader array of education sectors.
“The heart of the American ideal is this sense that we are in it together,” Obama said at the Dec. 4 event. “Nobody is guaranteed success, but everybody has access to the possibility of success. We are willing to work so not just our own children have pathways to success, but everybody does. Everybody is our kid. Everybody is our responsibility.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.