Partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
When President Obama declared during his 2010 State of the Union address that “in the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education,” he committed to ensuring that America will once again reclaim its global competitiveness and have the highest proportion of students graduating from college in the world by 2020. This ambitious endeavor quickly became known as “the 2020 goal.” Branding aside, many agreed that current and future economic conditions necessitate a greater demand for postsecondary education. Learning beyond high school today is a basic requirement for individual success in the labor market as well as a driver for national workforce development and social mobility.
Policymakers and prominent philanthropic organizations—in an unprecedented partnership—immediately rallied together to identify approaches to meet President Obama’s goal. While lawmakers are working to identify tactics to be initiated on the federal and state levels, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation eagerly set out to get out nation back on track by creating its own goal:
college degree or credential with genuine marketplace value by age 26.”
President Obama’s national educational pursuits served only as a reinforcement of the organization’s bold endeavor. Yet, the challenge in accomplishing both goals is finding ways to connect the millions of young Americans who have the desire to get a college education with the best higher education institutions while providing them with enough financial aid and social support to graduate—quickly.
To that end, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed to working with partners large and small, including public and private partners, nonprofits, and other foundations. The organization targeted investments focus on three overarching goals:
- Improve the performance of the postsecondary education.
- Support young adult success.
- Encourage U.S. leaders to commit to helping students complete their degrees.
IHEP was selected to play a key role in helping the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in its efforts. As such, IHEP launched its “Changing the Debate” initiative to bring timely, thought-provoking, and data-driven research and promising interventions to the policy debate.
© Institute for Higher Education Policy 1993-2010