Innovations that are Making College Happen

Groups like the Council on Opportunity in Education, the National College Access Network, and others are creating multi-sector entities that are bringing business and industry, colleges and universities, and school districts together to leverage a collective impact strategy. Smaller foundations like Posse Foundation, New World Foundation, and NoVo Foundation are collaborating with larger funders like Ford FoundationGates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation to test innovative approaches to access that are local, contextual and focused on community empowerment. Colleges and universities are using their continuing education programs to provide better training and preparation to high school counselors and college admissions teams to promote access to traditionally underrepresented areas.

In this section, learn about ways you can consider your campus’ unique strengths in creating innovation that will lead to increased access through community engagement.

1. Guide to catalyzing collective impact

Your campus can take a leadership role in bringing innovation to your host community, your region, or your state. Following principles of collective impact, your campus can serve as a convener of multiple sectors including the k-12 system, other higher education institutions, the healthcare sector, the business sector, and the philanthropic sector.

According to Hanleybrown, Kania, and Kramer (2012), the essential conditions of a collective impact program include:

Common Agenda – All participants have a shared vision for change including a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions

Shared Measurement – Collecting data and measuring results consistently across all participants ensures efforts remain aligned and participants hold each other accountable

Mutually Reinforcing Activities – Participant activities must be differentiated while still being coordinated through a mutually reinforcing plan of action

Continuous Communication – Consistent and open communication is needed across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and create common motivation

Backbone Support – Creating and managing collective impact requires a separate organization(s) with staff and a specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative and coordinate participating organizations and agencies

2. Exemplary Programs

The Strive Together Framework has been implemented in 49 communities since it was first applied in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the core of the Strive partnerships are four principles: Shared Community Vision, Evidence Based Decision Making, Collaborative Action, and Investment and Sustainability. These programs have proven results:

  • Boston Opportunity Agenda (Boston, Massachusetts) – Kindergarten Readiness, High School Graduation and College Completion
  • Commit! Partnership (Dallas County, Texas) – High School Graduation and Postsecondary Degree/ Certificate Completion
  • Road Map Project (Seattle, Washington) – Early-Grade Reading, Middle-Grade Math and College Enrollment
  • StrivePartnership (Cincinnati, Ohio, and Northern Kentucky) – Kindergarten Readiness, Fourth-Grade Reading, College Retention and more.

The Next Generation Venture Fund instituted by Goldman Sachs is designed to support academically talented students in grades 8 thru 12 from disadvantaged families. Provided to all participants are summer academic programs, individualized education planning, mentoring from the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, SAT preparation, and parental involvement. The summer programs and recruitment services are provided by the Duke University Talent Identification Program, the Northwestern University for Talent Development, Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, and the University of Denver Rocky Mountain Talent Search. Participants can take advanced college level summer classes, engage in leadership and vocational development programs, and receive college counseling and mentoring.

Civic Opportunities Initiative Network of New World Foundation leverages scholarship opportunities so that underrepresented youth gain leadership training and civic engagement in their own communities. Their model partners community groups, colleges, and others to provide meaningful leadership development through civic opportunities, empowering youth to be change-makers in their own communities. The funding comes in the form of scholarships that bring low-income students back to their home communities during summer breaks and leverage local partners to provide training and skill-building for community leadership.

3. Further Reading

Fay Hanleybrown, John Kania, & Mark Kramer (2012). Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work. Stanford Social Innovation Review.