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Higher education is transforming to better serve all students.

There’s growing momentum in higher education to better serve all students, regardless of their academic preparation, income level, age or race.

However, the system still lacks equity for students of color.

While large numbers of students from all demographics are placed in ineffective developmental education courses, participation is highest among African American and Latino/a individuals.

Students in Developmental Education, by Race

Students in Developmental Education, by Race

Low-income and first-generation students are placed in developmental education more often than their peers.

Pell grant recipients and first-generation college students are far more likely to be placed into developmental courses than non-Pell students or students with at least one parent who attained a bachelor’s degree.


Low-income and first-generation students in developmental education

Evidence shows that passing math and English in the first year propels college students on a path to success.

When students get off to a strong start in their first year and pass math and English courses, they can successfully enter a program of study that prepares them to graduate career-ready.

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Connecting developmental education to guided pathways is a key step.

Postsecondary institutions, philanthropic funders and leading nonprofits are learning and working together in new, dynamic ways to improve early momentum among low-income students, students of color and returning adults by connecting developmental education reforms and guided pathways.

Reforms are guided by evidence-based design principles.

Colleges and states across the nation have seen dramatic improvements in student success in their first year of college by implementing reforms consistent with a set of evidence-based design principles that transform students’ experiences.


Before Reforms

Before reforms

Nationally, only 22 percent of students in developmental education complete the associated gateway course within two years.

After Reforms

After reforms

In states that implemented reforms, up to 68 percent of students completed the gateway course within one semester.

Strong Start to Finish serves as a catalyst to amplify these reforms.

We’re an emerging national network of higher education leaders and institutions, foundations and nonprofits. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates, and the Kresge Foundation are providing initial funding and Education Commission of the States is overseeing and coordinating the Strong Start to Finish network.

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We’re awarding $8.5 million in grants to states to scale effective higher education practices.

We are excited to announce we are funding four higher education systems committed to get students onto successful pathways to college completion, while addressing attainment gaps for historically-underserved populations. Sites selected are City University of New York (CUNY), Ohio Department of Higher Education, State University of New York (SUNY) and University System of Georgia (USG).

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