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Project Overview

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program (Aspen) and its partners at the Community College Research Center (CCRC) seek 10 institutions to participate in Unlocking Opportunity: The Post-Graduation Success and Equity Network. Unlocking Opportunity is a first-of-its-kind initiative that reflects the next wave of the community college student success movement: a bold focus on excellence and equity in post-completion outcomes.

The 10 colleges selected for the Network will work closely with Aspen, CCRC, expert coaches, and field experts over three years on comprehensive reforms that have one overarching goal: thousands more community college students, including students of color and those from lower-income backgrounds, entering and completing programs that lead directly to jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage or to efficient and effective completion of a bachelor’s degree.

Along with the focus on increasing access to and success in high-value pathways, participating colleges will commit to decreasing the number of students who are on educational paths that do not clearly lead to strong post-graduation opportunity, including those who are undecided, in general education associate degree programs, and in CTE programs aligned to low-wage work.

Admission to this Network will be selective. Confirmed participants will be committing to a three-year intensive reform effort as well as three additional years of data collection (a six-year commitment in total). There is no fee for colleges to participate in this project. Institutions will be responsible for paying for airfare for teams to attend three in-person convenings between 2023 – 2025 (health conditions permitting). The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program will cover accommodations and meals for program teams during these events. No financial resources will be directly provided to participants.

College presidents and their selected teams in the Unlocking Opportunity Network will be guided through significant practice reform through personalized training, strategic planning, and coaching support from Aspen and CCRC staff and other field experts. The Unlocking Opportunity Network will also gain access to—and support using—many tools developed and used by Aspen’s professional development programs, including its Rising and New President Fellowships. Participant colleges will work as a community—engaging in a presidents’ network, annual convenings, peer consultancies, and more.

To be admitted and remain in the Network, your college president must actively participate in the Unlocking Opportunity Network throughout the project. We also require that colleges appoint a designated project lead to serve as the chief liaison between Aspen, CCRC, and your institution.

Submitting Your Application

As you consider participation in this network reform opportunity, please read the additional information on Aspen’s website about specific reform strategies, Network offerings, and expectations.

Applications are due by September 15, 2022 at 11:59pm ET.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.