Eleven large research institutions, including Michigan State University, have come together across state and conference lines to increase the rate at which students from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds graduate from college.
The effort is receiving $5.7 million in funding support from six major funders.
At a forum today in Washington, D.C., with presidents and provosts representing all 11 universities, as well as major funders, in attendance, the University Innovation Alliance outlined its mission of increasing the number of students who stay in college and graduate within six years, regardless of where they are within the socioeconomic spectrum.
MSU’s contribution to the alliance will be sharing and scaling its Neighborhood initiative, which was launched in 2010 to enhance student engagement and success.
“There is no question now that educational attainment is key to social mobility in an increasingly knowledge-based economy,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “We have the will, the tools and the critical mass to finally begin to breach a persistent barrier to delivering the promise of opportunity to all our students, no matter what their family or geographic circumstances.”
The alliance will develop and test new initiatives, share data and create a ‘playbook’ of best practices across its members and beyond, aspiring to invigorate efforts in all colleges and universities to produce a better-educated workforce.
“Housing more than 14,500 students, Michigan State’s Neighborhoods harness the power of one the nation’s largest residence hall systems to bring the resources of MSU to first-year students where they live,” said MSU Provost June Youatt. “This new model of integrated academic, residential and student services addresses the goal of giving every student admitted to MSU an equal opportunity of graduating.”
Initial data has indicated that MSU’s Neighborhoods are making an impact. Specifically, low-income, first-generation and first-year students who received focused outreach through the Neighborhoods were 20 percent less likely to be on academic probation after their first semester and first-year students who used Neighborhood services more frequently had better GPAs.
In addition to Michigan State, the University Innovation Alliance includes Arizona State University; Georgia State University; Iowa State University; Oregon State University; Purdue University; Ohio State University; the University of California, Riverside; the University of Central Florida; the University of Kansas; and the University of Texas-Austin.
Supporting foundations and charitable organizations are the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, USA Funds and Markle Foundation.