By Carmella Mazzotta
"Let's get our most disadvantaged kids across the finish line!" said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter in reference to the many low-income American students who are striving to complete their postsecondary educations.
Under Secretary Kanter was the keynote speaker at the culminating event for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Communities Learning in Partnership (CLIP) initiative held last week in Chicago. For more than three years, NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families has served as managing intermediary for the CLIP initiative, which sought to accelerate the efforts of city, community college and school district leaders and their partners to increase the number of low-income young adults who obtain postsecondary credentials and degrees.
Representatives from 13 cities came together for this final convening to articulate and celebrate achievements and lessons learned. Core team members from the four cities receiving a total of $12 million in CLIP implementation grants - Mesa, Ariz.; New York City; Riverside, Calif.; and San Francisco - joined other foundation grantees from Amarillo and Brownsville, Texas, and Charlotte, N.C., as well as a peer learning community of local leaders from Boston, Mass.; Dayton, Ohio; Louisville, Ky.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; and Portland, Ore.
Implementation grantees reported achieving results in several areas. For instance, in New York City, a new joint venture by the Mayor's Office, City University of New York, New York City Department of Education, and Goddard Riverside Community Center led to the creation of NYC College Line. This comprehensive web portal provides academic advisors, educators, parents and students with up-to-date resources that can help students get into and stay in college. The web portal is accessible in 10 languages, and local leaders intend to reach 100,000 users in the website's first year.
CLIP partners in San Francisco made extensive use of disaggregated data to target effective policies and programs toward African-American and Latino young adults. New early registration and priority enrollment policies have produced large gains in the number of San Francisco Unified School District students who are able to take credit-bearing English courses in their first year of college.
Municipal, business, and civic leaders in Riverside have incorporated a college completion agenda into a broader Seizing Our Destiny campaign dedicated to ensuring a prosperous future for the city. The Riverside partnership inaugurated a Two Year Contract for high school graduates, providing access to key courses and supports to encourage community college completion within two years.
In Mesa, city leaders are playing a greater role in the education sphere than ever before and plan to establish a new staff position focused on education. In tandem with its school district and community college partners, the City of Mesa itself has instituted a large-scale career internship program to connect high school students with areas of high job growth, and launched a work-and-learn urban corps program.
Whereas NLC's role as the intermediary for the CLIP initiative will come to an end by early summer, NLC will continue documenting and disseminating lessons and ideas that emerged from CLIP in the months ahead and will soon produce a new lessons learned guide for city officials.
In addition, NLC will continue to support CLIP sites as influential voices in national policy discussions, and will showcase their efforts at upcoming national conferences. Meanwhile, the extended peer learning community formed through CLIP will continue. Reflecting the value that CLIP communities place on cross-city exchange and peer interaction, volunteers from the cities have stepped up to ensure continued collaboration and communication, both virtually and in person.
Details: For more information about innovative strategies developed through CLIP, city leaders can register for a free, hour-long webinar on "What Can Cities Do to Help Students Complete College?" that will take place Wednesday, May 22, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. To learn more about NLC's efforts to help cities promote postsecondary success, contact Carmella Mazzotta at (202) 626-3009 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Marjorie Cohen at (202) 626-3052 or email@example.com.