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Funding for the future: Education Program priorities for 2024


In February, the entire Education Program joined practitioners, educators and other funders in Orlando, Florida, for Achieving The Dream’s (ATD) annual DREAM Conference. ATD’s annual signature event convenes thousands of practitioners from hundreds of community colleges to exchange evidence-based approaches to accelerating student success and equity. The Kresge Foundation has long sponsored a delegation of South African higher education officials to attend.

SAIDE Executive Director Jenny Glennie, University of the Free State student Simphiwe Kunene and Kresge Education Program Managing Director Bill Moses attend the Annual Achieving the DREAM Conference in Orlando, Florida.

This year, South African student, Simphiwe Kunene representing The University of the Free State, was selected as one of eight ATD college students to learn alongside community college leaders and bring his voice to the mainstage. Hearing Simphiwe share his story and contribute to learning panels was inspiring and a salient reminder of the importance of Kresge’s work in South Africa as well as the impact of shared success more globally.

In 2023, Kresge committed to expanding our impact to South African student success effort, Siyaphumelela, to up to 20 of South Africa’s 26 universities. We also announced exploration of anchor approaches at South African universities to enhance local neighborhoods, increase campus energy efficiency and work with local communities to provide job skills and employment. I look forward to announcing our new partners with you soon.

In the meantime, I’d like to highlight the Education team’s primary goals for 2024, our centennial year:

Implement our HBCU strategy. Kresge has a long history of working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). We plan to announce our new approach to engaging with HBCUs in the coming months and share grant updates throughout the year. We also look forward to working with other programs across the Foundation to support their HBCU engagements.

Launch Siyaphumelela 3.0. We will announce up to 20 new grants for Siyaphumelea by May 2024 and start ongoing engagement on anchor strategies. In addition to grantmaking, we plan to convene our Siyaphumelela grantees in June 2024 and convene our burgeoning anchor partners in late 2024.

Support efforts in response to the end of race-conscious admissions practices. We began funding efforts in 2022 designed to respond to the likely end of affirmative action. Going forward, we hope to support monitoring initiatives that quantify declines in diversity at selective institutions, research on the outcomes of the decision, and successful institutional approaches to maintaining student diversity and opportunity for underrepresented students.

Support student voice through civic engagement and voter outreach. As part of our desire to support student voice in higher education and in our work generally, we have funded outreach to student civic engagement and student voting efforts since 2012, which will continue in 2024.

To hope to enter the middle class in the 21st century, and meet the needs of a modern economy, Americans need postsecondary credentials. When Kresge began working in the access and success space in 2008, U.S. postsecondary attainment was 38%. As of 2022, U.S. postsecondary attainment is 54.3%. This is an amazing and unsung success. But equity gaps remain stubbornly persistent and economists estimate the U.S. economy will require that 70% of all adults have a credential by 2027.

There is still much more work to be done to close gaps and ensure that every American desiring a postsecondary credential can earn one.