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We amplify evidence-based reforms that help more college students succeed.

Strong Start to Finish aims to significantly increase the number and proportion of low-income students, students of color and returning adults who succeed in college math and English and enter a program of study in their first year of college.

We are an emerging network of committed postsecondary leaders and philanthropists, working together to change institutional practice and policy across the nation and bring equity to education.

Our network has grown out of learning and action on a few key fronts.

  • Postsecondary education has seen dynamic new breakthroughs in student learning. A critical mass of postsecondary leaders is now aligned around a set of system design principles.
  • Philanthropic leaders across the nation are no longer content to settle for pilot programs. They desire to collaborate more deeply in order to achieve a larger impact and return on postsecondary investments.

Our Intermediary

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Education Commission of the States

Strong Start to Finish is an initiative supported by Education Commission of the States, a nonpartisan policy nonprofit organization that conducts research, delivers reports, provides expert counsel on the full spectrum of education policy issues, and convenes education leaders across the 50 states to learn from each other. The Strong Start to Finish team is composed of higher education policy experts and program managers dedicated to promoting equity in higher education.

Our Philanthropic Supporters

Initial funds have been provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates and The Kresge Foundation. Additional investments will be encouraged and welcomed from additional national, regional and local funders.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. The Foundation's vision is a U.S. higher education system that propels social mobility and economic development.

Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates


Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates

Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates believes in the power of higher education to change lives for the better. The nonprofit group works to help students nationwide prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education and student loan repayment. Since 2006 its education philanthropy has made grants totaling more than $200 million to colleges, universities, community-based organizations and researchers that promote innovative and scalable solutions to improving higher education access and completion for students of color, low-income students and first-generation students nationwide.

The Kresge Foundation


The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.6 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development in Detroit. In 2015, the Board of Trustees approved 370 grants totaling $125.2 million, and nine social investment commitments totaling $20.3 million.