Five Foundations Fund Initiative to Improve Student Success in Community Colleges. 19 institutions in 5 states will participate in first phase focusing on mathematics and college readiness.

Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Lumina Foundation are joining in partnership with The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to invest in improving student success in community colleges. All five foundations share a commitment to expanding college readiness and furthering student retention and graduation rates.

The problem addressed through their support of this work is the dismal failure rate of students in remedial mathematics. Up to 60 percent of students enrolling in U.S. community colleges must take at least one remedial course (also called developmental education) to build their basic academic skills. The vast majority of community college students referred to developmental mathematics do not successfully complete the current sequence of required courses and many leave college for good.

“Developmental mathematics courses become a roadblock to success for our nation’s community college students,” said Carnegie President Anthony S. Bryk. “We are wasting precious human potential. The high cost of denied dreams and unfulfilled aspirations is unacceptable. Rather than a gateway to a college education and a better life, mathematics has become an unyielding gatekeeper.”

This new effort, driven by the Carnegie Foundation, aims to double the proportion of students, who, within one year of continuous community college enrollment, are mathematically prepared to succeed in further academic study and/or academic pursuits, regardless of limitation that they may have in language, literacy and mathematics and their ability, on entry, to navigate college.

The $14 million initiative, funded by all five foundations for two years, will build a networked community working on the development of two newly designed mathematics pathways.  The Statistics Pathway (Statway) will move developmental math students to and through transferable college statistics in one year. The Mathematical Literacy Pathway (Mathway) will be a new one semester course, replacing elementary and intermediate algebra, followed by completion of a college-level mathematics course.

“For students to succeed in an ever-changing, globalized world, they need to apply creativity and imagination to solve problems,” said Michele Cahill, Vice President, National Program, and Program Director, Urban Education at Carnegie Corporation of New York.  “A statistics pathway will not only help prepare students for careers in business, information technology, law and many other fields, it offers the quantitative literacy students need to fully participate in civic life.”

“The American economy needs college-trained workers, and we just are not producing enough of them,” said Mark Milliron, Deputy Director of Postsecondary Success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “These initiatives have the potential to turn developmental math, a stumbling block for too many students, into a starting block for launching a successful career.”

Barbara Chow, the director of the education program for the Hewlett Foundation, said this new approach to teaching math is an important step toward preparing community college students for life in the new century.

“Math mastery and other critical reasoning skills have become crucial to participate in the emerging economy,” said Chow. “At Hewlett our grantmaking in education is working to assure those skills and others related to it are shared by the greatest possible number of students. We’re hopeful this initiative will be one way to help us achieve it.”

“This initiative is very much aligned with Lumina Foundation’s goal to see 60 percent of Americans hold high-quality college degrees or credentials by 2025,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and CEO. “Improving the educational success of students in developmental programs is critical to achieving this goal, and we are excited to have the opportunity to partner with the Carnegie Foundation and our peer funders to make this a reality.”

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About the funders

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center that supports needed transformations in American education through tighter connections between teaching practice, evidence of student learning, the communication and use of this evidence, and structured opportunities to build knowledge.

Carnegie Corporation of New York is a philanthropic foundation created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to do "real and permanent good in this world." In education, the Corporation works to create pathways to opportunity for many more students by promoting systemic change and innovation in secondary and higher education

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, the Foundation seek to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and lif

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. Grants in the Education Program improve education by expanding the reach of openly available educational resources, improving California education policies, and by supporting "deeper learning" – a combination of the fundamental knowledge and practical basic skills all students will need to succeed.

Lumina Foundation for Education, an Indianapolis-based, private, independent foundation, strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access to and success in education beyond high school.