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Inclusive Policy Research and Policy Development with Impacted Communities: A Toolkit for Think Tanks, Policy Nonprofits, and Governments

June 15, 2022

Our nation has a long history of excluding individuals and communities from the policymaking table--because of their race, ethnicity, or immigration status; their age, income, or educational level; or any number of other factors--even though they are often those who are most affected by our policy choices. Nowhere is the exclusion of directly impacted communities more indefensible than in our democracy and policymaking process, the precise forums where decisions are made about how to prioritize, develop, and implement the solutions to our collective problems. For policy leaders who want to develop, influence, enact, and implement public policies to build a more just society, eliminating this systemic exclusion is critical.This toolkit identifies and shares best practices on how public policy organizations, including government agencies or offices, can engage directly impacted communities and individuals in policy research and policy development with an aim toward true inclusion, collaboration, empowerment, and equity.

LIGHTING THE PATH to Remove Systemic Barriers in Higher Education and Award Earned Postsecondary Credentials Through IHEP’s Degrees When Due Initiative

April 29, 2022

Higher education is the surest pathway to a better living and a better life. Yet, the goal of a valuable college credential goes unrealized for too many students, especially students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. Today, more than 36 million Americans have some college credit, but no awarded degree and, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the studies of even more students, deepening inequities that already are pervasive.Lighting the Path shares key findings from Degrees When Due, a nationwide completion initiative to reengage students and build institutional capacity. The report sets forth key findings on barriers to reenrollment, persistence, and completion; outlines strategies to best support returning students; and offers recommendations for policymakers at every level--institutional, state, and federal--to promote equitable degree completion.

Persevering to Completion: Understanding the Experiences of Adults Who Successfully Returned to College

March 30, 2022

In recent years, both policymakers and practitioners working to increase postsecondary attainment rates in the United States have shifted their focus from college access to college success. At the same time, they have recognized that the prevalence of 36 million adults with some college education but no postsecondary credential is an important consequence of the many challenges facing American college students. Adults with some college but no credential face a range of barriers to both re-enrolling in college and completing a credential if they re-enroll. Those who have made several attempts to attend college may be burdened by student loans and other educational debt but cannot reap the social and economic benefits associated with earning a postsecondary credential. Given this reality, policymakers and postsecondary institutions must identify effective ways to support these individuals if and when they do try to return to college. Commissioned by the Lumina Foundation, this study offers a unique opportunity to better understand the experiences of adults who stopped out of college, re-enrolled, and either successfully completed a credential or seemed likely to do so. Based on a new survey of these successful returning students, the study investigates the challenges and supports they view as important to their ability to remain enrolled and attain a postsecondary credential, with the goal of identifying factors that facilitated their success. 

The Colleges Where Low-Income Students Get the Highest ROI

January 24, 2022

College typically pays off for low-income students, but not as much as it does for their peers. Low-income students, whose families earn $30,000 or less per year, comprise more than one-third of college students. The Colleges Where Low-Income Students Get the Highest ROI finds that low-income students have a lower return on investment (ROI) than all students, largely because they tend to earn less as adults. This holds true across public and private institutions and certificates, associate's degrees, and bachelor's degrees. Among institutions that primarily award bachelor's degrees, public institutions generally lead to the highest ROI for low-income students during a 40-year timeframe ($951,000), followed by private nonprofit institutions ($863,000) and for-profit colleges ($763,000). The ROI for low-income students follows a similar pattern at colleges that primarily grant associate's degrees and certificates, with the highest returns from public institutions, followed by private nonprofit and for-profit institutions. However, low-income students' returns from associate's degrees can exceed $1 million, and certificates can be just as lucrative, depending on which college a student attends.

Youth Policy: How Can We Smooth the Rocky Pathway to Adulthood?

December 6, 2021

While boosts in labor demand have helped young workers as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 recession, young people continue to grapple with a youth labor market that has been deteriorating for 20 years. Their prospects have been dimmed by three major recessions: the burst of the dot-com bubble (2001), the Great Recession (2007-2009), and the COVID-19 recession (2020). Further, long-term structural changes in the economy have favored older workers with more experience, training, and education while limiting opportunity for young workers.Youth Policy: How Can We Smooth the Rocky Pathway to Adulthood? examines the United States' fragmented and inadequate approach to youth policy against the backdrop of these economic pressures and recommends changes necessary to move toward a more comprehensive and holistic approach.

Intergenerational Civic Learning: A Path Toward Revitalized Democracy

November 18, 2021

Generational divisions all too often mark political fault lines, but they can also catalyze mutual learning and democratic renewal. Civic intergenerationality is an approach to civic learning grounded in coming together across the life span to create a social and political reality that supports people of all ages. It operates under the assumption that all people are assets to our community, are capable of civic learning, and would benefit from it. By embracing the practice of civic intergenerationality, we can address America's ongoing civic crisis. We can create a community of lifelong, reciprocal learners that uplifts our youngest civic agents while leveraging the experiences and wisdom of older generations

Democracy Counts 2020: Record-Breaking Turnout and Student Resiliency

October 28, 2021

This report contains findings from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE, pronounced n-solve), a landmark study of U.S. college and university student voting. Launched in 2013, NSLVE consists of a database of more than 10 million de-identified student records that have been combined with publicly available voting records for each of the 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, and now, 2020 elections. Participating institutions include two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities, including graduate programs. Campuses must opt in, and at the time of this report, roughly 1,200 colleges and universities from all 50 states and the District of Columbia participate. For this report, we examine 1,051 campuses representing approximately 9 million student voters.

The College Payoff: More Education Doesn’t Always Mean More Earnings

October 6, 2021

The College Payoff: More Education Doesn't Always Mean More Earnings explores how lifetime earnings vary by education level, field of study, occupation, industry, gender, race and ethnicity, and location. The lifetime earnings of a full-time full-year worker with a high school diploma are $1.6 million, while workers with an associate's degree earn $2 million. However, at least one quarter of high school graduates earn more than an associate's degree holder. Bachelor's degree holders earn a median of $2.8 million during their career, 75% more than if they had only a high school diploma. Master's degree holders earn a median of $3.2 million over their lifetimes, while doctoral degree holders earn $4 million and professional degree holders earn $4.7 million. However, one quarter of workers with a bachelor's degree earn more than half of workers with a master's or a doctoral degree.

Selective Bias: Asian Americans, Test Scores, and Holistic Admissions

July 14, 2021

Selective Bias: Asian Americans, Test Scores, and Holistic Admissions evaluates the common arguments made by affirmative action critics and Students for Fair Admissions, which is suing Harvard University and has lawsuits pending against the University of North Carolina and the University of Texas at Austin over their admissions practices. The report finds no strong evidence of discrimination against Asian American applicants in admissions to highly selective colleges.

Mission Not Accomplished: Unequal Opportunities and Outcomes for Black and Latinx Engineers

May 25, 2021

Engineering occupations are some of the highest-paying and most prestigious in the US labor market, but they are also some of the least diverse. Mission Not Accomplished: Unequal Opportunities and Outcomes for Black and Latinx Engineers finds that of the nearly 1.7 million prime-age engineering workers in the United States in 2019, 81% were either White or Asian, and 84% were men. A mere 3% of engineers working in the field in 2019 were either Black or Latinx women.

The Cost of Economic and Racial Injustice in Postsecondary Education

May 11, 2021

In partnership with the Postsecondary Value Commission, we conducted a thought experiment on the costs of inequality in the US education system. Our simulation found that the US economy misses out on $956 billion per year, along with numerous nonmonetary benefits, as a result of postsecondary attainment gaps by economic status and race/ethnicity. The Cost of Economic and Racial Injustice in Postsecondary Education finds that closing these gaps would require an initial public investment of at least $3.97 trillion, but the benefits would outweigh the costs over time. Equalizing educational attainment without increasing student debt for low-income adults could also boost GDP by a total of $764 billion annually.

15 Million Infrastructure Jobs: An Economic Shot in the Arm to the COVID-19 Recession

March 29, 2021

A $2 trillion jobs plan (of which $1.5 trillion will go to infrastructure) from the Biden-Harris administration would be good medicine to nurse the economic wounds inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The infrastructure plan would create or save 15 million jobs over 10 years and would increase the share of infrastructure jobs from 11% to 14% of all jobs in this country, temporarily reviving the blue-collar economy.