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NY Higher Education Leaders Map Path To Higher Education Equity

Yesterday evening, higher education leaders from across the state gathered at a forum in Manhattan to discuss solutions to ensure every young New Yorker– regardless of ZIP code, income, or any other factor — gets a quality, affordable higher education. Titled “Breaking Barriers: Equity in Higher Education in New York City,” the roundtable featured State Senator Robert Jackson, New York State Regent Lester W. Young, Jr., President of the Hispanic Federation Jose Calderon, CUNY Dean of K-16 Initiatives Cass Conrad, and Senior Director of Postsecondary Policy at the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Safety and Youth Development Sugeni Pérez-Sadler.

At the roundtable, speakers presented a blueprint for higher education equity from #DegreesNYC, a project dedicated to achieving equity in postsecondary access and completion in New York City.

“All students should have the opportunity to realize their dream of a college education, regardless of their income, ZIP code, or any other factor,” said Marissa Muñoz, Northeast Regional Director for Young Invincibles. “However, the cost of college and lack of academic support throw many students off the pathway to college success. Our #DegreesNYC Blueprint outlines policies and practices to steer New York City students to college completion. Government and institution leaders must ensure that more New York City students not only make it to college but through it as well.”

In the blueprint, city higher education leaders outline the challenges facing New York City’s college students and practical solutions the city should enact to close education attainment gaps. These solutions include:

  • Making postsecondary education affordable by increasing funding for postsecondary education and improving state financial aid processes
  • Building pathways to two-year to four-year degrees by increasing support for students as they transfer to senior colleges
  • Increasing data and accountability in higher education by fostering systemwide agreement on key indicators of progress and creating and leveraging data systems to measure success
  • Elevating college access, success support, and accessibility by engaging New York City’s families and creating programs that support students towards success

#DegreesNYC is as much about how we work as what we work on,” said Judith Lorimer, Director of Goddard Riverside Options Center and #DegreesNYC. “We all agree that we will only arrive at an equitable education system through large systems change. We will never achieve this if we stay in our current siloes. We need to do the work to build bridges between institutions, organizations, funders, researchers, young people, and families so that we are all working toward common goals in high impact ways. #DegreesNYC does that by continuously bringing people together from across the system to consider critical issues around equity and postsecondary success.”

“#DegreesNYC has created a unique 21st century village committed to building a learning community through collective impact, youth leadership and centering on data promises to revolutionize how we achieve equity in K-16 education in New York City,” said LaKisha Williams, Assistant Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement at Goddard Riverside Options Center and Project Manager of #DegreesNYC.

“#DegreesNYC connects people and programs across sectors to improve postsecondary outcomes throughout the City,” said Gregg Betheil, President of PENCIL. “Every New Yorker benefits when more students, from all backgrounds, are on the path to success. I’m excited to be a part of this important work.“

“What is exciting about #DegreesNYC is that it engages all the players who have a stake in the processes and outcomes of achieving educational success,” said Marcia Cantarella, Ph.D., President of Cantarella Consulting. “For us that means that by 2025, at least 60 percent of the children who enter the NYC system attain some level of post-high school degree.”

The “Blueprint for Collective Action on Postsecondary Access and Success in New York City” was crafted with the input from 90 people across fifty organizations including community- and faith-based organizations, local and national nonprofits, K-12 education, higher education, philanthropy, research, and city government. In gathering that feedback, #DegreesNYC hosted meetings throughout the boroughs and a community hearing about barriers to college enrollment and completion for low-income students and students of color, along with best practices for closing the gaps. #DegreesNYC then convened a citywide summit to address five recurring themes and organize work groups to further analyze each area.

Moving forward, #DegreesNYC will create a task force on both K-12 counseling and advising, as well as strengthening two to four-year transfer pipelines. #DegreesNY will also create a work group on remediation and will launch a youth-led student-ready campus project.