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Level Up: Leveraging Explicit Value for Every Black Learner, Unapologetically

March 22, 2023

Education is one of the strongest vehicles to economic prosperity and overall increased quality of life; even so its structure is riddled with unaddressed systemic barriers that data show most harshly implicates Black learners. To address this requires a holistic approach driven by acknowledgement and understanding that the current structures in place are not serving Black learners well.Alarmingly, over the last 20 years, the nation has lost 300,000 Black learners from the community college system, with participation rates among Black students lower today than they were 20 years ago — a documented and drastic decline in access and enrollment long before the wide-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. When looking across all sectors roughly 600,000 Black learners have disappeared from American higher education's great "open door."Clearly, this decline is not occurring because Black learners are choosing to pursue other postsecondary options. Nor are Black learners opting to enter the workforce for "good" jobs. The decline is also not because the Black population is shrinking. In fact, the Black young adult population (18-34 years old) has steadily grown since 2000. The value proposition of postsecondary education is increasingly murky for Black learners — both in Black learner perception and societal reality.To be clear, the onus is not on Black learners. State and federal institutions and policymakers at all levels have a responsibility to ensure that places of higher education are accessible and welcoming to all, regardless of a student's race or background. Black learners must have postsecondary options that ensure the value proposition of higher education for them. Delivering on this overdue right requires mobilizing core commitments with shared ownership among federal and state policymakers; local communities and their community colleges and other institutions of higher education; and philanthropic champions.Realizing these commitments represents the cornerstone of a new, equitable foundation for Black learner excellence in higher education and beyond.

The State of Higher Education 2022 Report

April 13, 2022

Higher education institutions and the students they serve have been severely impacted by COVID-19. High levels of isolation, disruption due to unscheduled openings and closures, remote learning and heightened burnout among faculty and staff due to increased workloads have combined to create a challenging environment for all colleges and universities.Despite these disruptions, U.S. adults view higher education as playing a critical role in achieving a great job and a great life. As millions of Americans map their post-pandemic pathways, higher education institutions are poised to have an important impact on the upskilling and reskilling of U.S. adults.The Lumina-Gallup Student Study builds on insights from the 2020 survey by asking students about ongoing risks to their enrollment and the policies and programs that allowed them to remain. Gallup surveyed more than 11,000 students to help inform institutions about how they can better support current and prospective students, allowing them to achieve additional education and training that can lead to better jobs and lives.

Beyond Financial Aid: How Colleges Can Strengthen the Financial Stability of Low-income Students and Improve Student Outcomes - 2018

March 1, 2018

This report is a compendium of best practices for assisting low-income students. It highlights work that has been underway for years but has not always been implemented at scale, especially within institutions that enroll significant numbers of low-income students. This toolkit offers leaders five concrete strategies they can use in two ways to increase student success: (1) it can help determine how, and how well, their institutions are serving low-income students; and (2) it can help them devise and implement plans to improve, expand and better coordinate services for greater impact. The report is divided in three sections: (1) Five Strategies to Increase the Success of Low-Income Students; (2) BFA Institutional Self-Assessment Guide; and (3) BFA Implementation Guide. Two appendices are included.

Driving Postsecondary Success with Impact Investing: Executive Briefing Investment Opportunities in the Postsecondary Access and Success Ecosystem, Executive Summary

December 1, 2016

This research by Avivar Capital, funded by The Kresge Foundation and Lumina Foundation, identifies capital barriers and maps opportunities to deploy various forms of capital – including mission-related and program-related investments – to support America's need for talent while addressing challenges such as the increasing cost of education, the changing demographics of students and the rise of enabling technologies.

Talent Investments Pay Off: Executive Briefing - Discover Financial Services Realizes Returns for Investments in Tuition Reimbursement

November 30, 2016

From 2010 to 2013, Discover's tuition reimbursement program produced an overall 144% return on investment as a result of avoided talent management costs due to higher rates of promotion, transfers and retention and lower rates of absenteeism. Employees participating in the program received, on average, annual wage increases that were at least 41% greater than non-participating employees, while helping Discover save $10.9M.

Talent Investments Pay Off: Executive Briefing - Advocate Health Care Realizes Returns for Investments in Education Assistance

September 27, 2016

An analysis of Advocate Health Care's Education Assistance Program (EAP), conducted by Accenture and partner Lumina Foundation, shows a 4-percent return on every dollar invested in tuition assistance for the health system. For Advocate's business and administrative workforce, EAP generates a 58-percent ROI.

Outcomes-based Funding and Responsibility Center Management: Combining the Best of State and Institutional Budget Models to Achieve Shared Goals

July 13, 2016

State governments serve as a key funding source for public higher education. An alternative to historically based state subsidies or enrollment-based formulas, outcomes-based funding allows states to convey goals for higher education by allocating state tax dollars based on measures of outcomes. Within higher education institutions, the Responsibility Center Management model engages deans and other mid-level managers in the responsibility and accountability for revenue generation as well as expense management. Policymakers will benefit from understanding this approach and how it could be used in concert with outcomes-based funding to support the development and delivery of new academic paradigms, expand access to underrepresented students, and, ultimately, increase educational attainment for a greater number of people. This article describes the potential alignment between incentives created by the Responsibility Center Management model and goals of outcomesbased funding. With an integration of the two models, there is a greater assurance of achieving the goals of both—fiscal sustainability and student success. By using Responsibility Center Management, college and university administrators are better able to marshal resources to help students complete their degrees and other credentials while also reaping the benefits of an outcomes-based funding system that directs public funding toward institutions that are doing just that.

Talent Investments Pay Off: White Paper - Cigna Realizes Return on Investment from Tuition Benefits

April 25, 2016

Investing in college tuition as an employee benefit helps companies attract and retain top talent, but a new study of Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) shows there's another compelling reason for employers to embrace the benefit: it improves the bottom line.An analysis of health insurer Cigna's Education Reimbursement Program (ERP) shows every dollar the company puts into the program is returned and generates an additional $1.29 in savings—a 129 percent return on investment. Lumina Foundation, a national foundation focused on increasing postsecondary attainment partnered with Cigna to design the study, which was conducted by Accenture, a leading global professional services company."We've long known that when companies support their employees' pursuit of a postsecondary education, it improves employees' lives and addresses our nation's overall need to increase talent in our workforce," said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. "With the release of this study, we also can further demonstrate that investing in employees' tuition isn't a benefit cost, but rather a valuable investment that positively impacts organizations' bottom line. That should entice more C-suite leaders to embrace this approach."The study of Cigna's ERP offers a rare glimpse at the financial impact of tuition assistance programs. About 60 percent of employers offer such support—investing an average of 10 percent of their learning and development budgets on tuition assistance—but only two to five percent of organizations evaluate the return of these investments. Cigna's study examined differences in rates of promotions, transfers, and retention between employees who took advantage of ERP and employees who did not participate from 2012 to 2014, isolating factors such as employee tenure that could impact findings.The study shows that Cigna's ERP program increases career opportunity and employee retention, which drives financial payback. Program participants are 10 percent more likely to be promoted, 7.5 percent more likely to be transferred within Cigna, and eight percent more likely to stay at the company, reducing across-the-board talent management and recruiting costs.

A Stronger Nation: Post Secondary Learning Builds the Talent That Helps Us Rise

March 11, 2016

A new research report from Brookings finds a positive relationship between tracking 8th grade mathematics and performance on Advanced Placement (AP) tests four years later that "support future research on the hypothesis that tracking benefits high achieving students -- in particular, high-achieving students of color -- by offering accelerated coursework that they would not otherwise get in untracked schools."

Connecting Research and State Policy: Implications for Academic Researchers and Intermediary Organizations

January 15, 2016

With the goal of identifying ways to improve connections between academic research and policymaking, Lumina Foundation convened a small group of academic researchers and leaders of intermediary organizations. From this convening came a number of recommendations. These recommendations are designed for academic researchers and the leadership of intermediary organizations who share the goal of improving postsecondary attainment in the United States. This brief summarizes these recommendations.

A Benchmark for Making College Affordable

August 19, 2015

So what is "affordable?" Most concepts of affordability are based on what college should cost, not what students can afford to pay. For example, colleges and universities often set tuition based not on what students can afford but rather on what the institutions need in terms of revenue. The conversations about affordability typically begin with what college prices are, what grant aid is available, and then ultimately wind up with what students are left to pay. Instead, the student-centered model proposed here begins with what students can reasonably contribute, and then suggests that the system be built around their needs. It is our hope that the affordability benchmark will contribute to the ongoing policy dialogue about college affordability in the coming months and years. However, instead of these conversations being shrouded in ambiguity, they can be grounded in a more specific idea of what affordability actually is.

Beyond Financial Aid: How Colleges Can Strengthen the Financial Stability of Low-income Students and Improve Student Outcomes

June 22, 2015

Completing education beyond high school is essential to Americans' well-being and economic success. But rising costs and inadequate financial resources hinder too many students from earning postsecondary credentials. This guidebook identifies six key strategies for improving services for low-income students. The report showcases promising approaches that colleges and universities are already employing, and offers these ideas as guides for all institutions. It also features an institutional self-assessment designed to help postsecondary institutions determine their effectiveness in serving low-income students and take steps toward improving their practices.