The effort, called the Equity Transfer Initiative, is awarding up to $27,500 to support partnerships between community and four-year colleges to advance transfer pathways and align them to increase transfer and completion for underrepresented student populations. Each team must place at least 100 students on one of five identified transfer pathways by the end of the first year and 300 or more total by the end of the second year. ETI aims serve 6,000 students from the identified underrepresented groups over the two-year project period.
“We know transferring remains a barrier for African American and Latinx students as well as adult and first-generation learners,” said Christel Perkins, Deputy Executive Director, Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and Assistant Vice President at APLU. “Stronger partnerships between community colleges and universities are essential to tearing down this barrier so more students can finish their studies with a degree in hand.”
“We are at a critical juncture in education where the imperative to close equity and achievement gaps has never been more urgent,” said Saúl Valdez, program officer at ECMC Foundation. “We are motivated by American Association of Community Colleges’ selection of teams to the Equity Transfer Initiative, a pillar of the Catalyzing Transfer Initiative to address the challenges that marginalized students especially face in successful transfer to a four-year institution.”
“Transferring from one college to another is one of the most important — and difficult — transition points in many learners' educational journeys,” said Carolynn Lee, program officer at Ascendium. “For learners from low-income backgrounds, which disproportionately includes Black, Hispanic, first generation and adult learners, it's too often a moment of disrupted hopes and derailed educational goals. Ascendium is pleased to partner with the American Association of Community Colleges (along with the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities) as they lead the Equity Transfer Initiative (ETI) to urgently and transparently address the effect that transfer has on inequitable student success outcomes. We are eager to learn alongside the selected ETI participants as they address their transfer challenges through data-driven analysis and evidence-based practices.”
The APLU institutions participating in the effort are: University of California, Davis; Cleveland State University; University of Colorado Denver; George Mason University; University of Massachusetts Lowell; Oklahoma State University; Texas State University; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and Wayne State University. Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, a member of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, is also participating. Sixteen partnerships from 13 states representing 17 community colleges and 19 universities were selected to participate. The effort is funded by ECMC Foundation and Ascendium Education Group. Participants will receive transfer coaching support to advance work plans that include:
- An assessment of the current and/or newly proposed relationship between two-year and four-year institutions to identify obstacles and develop response strategies that lead to a strong transfer relationship.
- A review of current and/or new transfer pathways through an equity lens, specifically identifying evidence-based equity strategies or new innovative equity strategies that allow students to matriculate without losing credit and time to degree.
Partnerships/consortia will also have access to technical assistance provided by subject matter experts, participate in convenings to teach and learn from each other, and inform the development of train-the-trainer tools that colleges interested in strengthening their transfer pathways can use. Additionally, participants will focus on strengthening student support services and ensuring that culturally competent counseling, among other interventions, are considered as viable ways to serve these students.