President and CEO Dr. Karen A Stout's Top 15 Trends in Community College Student Success and Philanthropy

Top 15 Trends in Community College Student Success and Philanthropy
Dr. Karen A. Stout


1. Confidence in the value of higher education is eroding and skepticism is increasing.

2. Community colleges are seeing significant drops in enrollment, threatening their fiscal stability. The number of dual enrollment students at community colleges could be masking the extent of the enrollment decline.

3. Federal policy for higher education is unclear but looks to be moving in the direction of deregulation, cuts in student aid programs, and the gutting of programs that disproportionately help students most in need. For the first time in a decade, PELL is threatened. The lack of clear federal policy magnifies the importance of strong state higher education policy environments with many states looking to higher education policy as an important way to maintain competitiveness.

4. Liberal arts education is under attack, with a stronger focus on vocational programs, new forms of apprenticeships, STEM, and short-­-term job training programs.

5. Frustration is increasing with the slow pace of incremental change and improvement in increasing the completion of traditionally underserved students, especially at community colleges, in the public (with policy makers and legislators) and in philanthropy.

6. The student success movement is entering a “next generation” of reform that calls for a new completion and access agenda. Yet, most community colleges have not moved through the first wave of student success reforms.  

7. State funding continues to decline, down 17 percent since 2008.Coupled with enrollment declines and the ripple effect of state cuts on local funding, the higher education business model is being challenged, resulting in mega mergers (Kaplan and Purdue) mergers (Georgia Perimeter with Georgia State, Philadelphia University with Thomas Jefferson), merger-­‐like moves (New Jersey community colleges and Rowan University) and consolidation of satellite locations (at many ATD colleges).

8. The openness of college campuses, a unique and foundational strength, is now a potential vulnerability placing new pressures on facilities operations and campus safety professionals.

9. College Promise programs are sweeping the country coming in many forms, originating in a variety of ways. Many colleges are moving to the center of community-­‐based Promise program design forming new partnerships and setting collective, community-­‐wide educational attainment goals.The openness of college campuses, a unique and foundational strength, is now a potential vulnerability placing new pressures on facilities operations and campus safety professionals.

10. College affordability and student debt remain in the forefront of public dialogue and media attention. The fear of student debt poses a significant threat to educational opportunity in the United States. Default rates at community colleges are higher than other sectors.

11. Foundations are more proactive and prescriptive, shifting to a donor-­‐driven giving with investment in proven, evidence-­‐based models, and in cohorts of colleges rather than individual colleges. Their interest in community colleges may be cooling with giving rising to a peak in 2010 and lowering since then.

12. Individual donors are using new vehicles to achieve their philanthropic goals including impact investing, limited liability corporations, and donor-­‐advised funds (e.g. Sheryl Sandberg’s new giving). They are also more likely to engage in “giving while living” practices.

13. Giving at the middle of the gift pyramid is dropping off suggesting we are struggling with engaging younger alumni and growing the donor base.

14. Building social media capital is emerging as essential to supporting enrollment, completion, legislative relations, brand awareness, and philanthropy.

15. There is increasing evidence that more college students are in need of safety net supports, like access to public benefits, basic financial security supports, transportation, mental health supports, etc. to stay in college and complete.

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