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Strong Start to Finish awards 4 sites more than $8M


Strong Start to Finish (SSTF), a national initiative aimed at significantly increasing the number and proportion of low-income students, students of color and returning adults who succeed in college math and English, awarded $8.525 million in grants today to higher education systems committed to getting students onto successful pathways to college completion while addressing attainment gaps for historically underserved populations.

The Kresge Foundation supports SSTF with $3.2 million in grants to Education Commission of the States, which oversees the initiative. Other initiative funders include The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Great Lakes Higher Education Corp. & Affiliates.

“This initiative is a rare opportunity for funders to work collectively to increase the number of students completing college, especially low-income, minority and other historically underserved populations,” said Rebecca Villarreal, a program officer on Kresge’s Education team. “Hundreds of thousands of students will be helped by having clearer pathways to a degree, and thanks to the use of common metrics, the field will gain data to help inform future decision-making.”

Forty-seven letters of interest in the grant opportunity were submitted by states, higher education systems, regional consortia and metropolitan areas committed to integrating developmental education and guided pathways reforms in ways that will empower low-income students, students of color and returning adults to pass college math and English courses and enter a program of study by the end of their first academic year.
Nine entities were invited to submit full proposals, each of which underwent extensive review by members of the SSTF Expert Advisory Board, philanthropic leaders and SSTF staff using a standardized scoring rubric. All nine proposals were strong but four emerged as exemplary for their use of evidence-based practices and commitment to achieve greater equity. Each will receive $2.1 million over three years, and each presents a unique context for learning how systems can effectively support student success in the first year of college. 

Click here to see the full release and the four entities selected.