Carthage commits to new initiative to erase equity gaps in college completion
Carthage has joined the nation’s first regional consortium of colleges and universities to commit to “Moon Shot for Equity,” a new national initiative that aims to close equity gaps in higher education by 2030.
Carthage, Milwaukee Area Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside announced the partnership in a joint statement Oct. 21.
The four institutions will work together and with education firm EAB to help more students of color and other historically underserved populations graduate from college.
According to the latest graduation data compiled by the Higher Education Regional Alliance, 63 percent of white college students in the seven-county Milwaukee region earned a bachelor’s degree within six years. Only 49 percent of Hispanic students and 35 percent of Black students completed a bachelor’s degree in that time frame.
Carthage President John Swallow. “In the same way that a national effort brought the moon within reach in the 1960s, we can plant a flag for equity in southeastern Wisconsin by channeling our collective will and expertise.”“These disparities have existed far too long in every sector of higher education, public and private,” said
Moon Shot for Equity combines data analytics and technology with research-based practices proven to remove systemic barriers to student success.
The name of the initiative derives from another ambitious national goal. NASA’s successful moon shot more than five decades ago proved that obstacles can be overcome by fully committing and working together in innovative ways, said EAB Chief Executive Officer David Felsenthal.
“Through the Moon Shot for Equity, regions like greater Milwaukee will confront racial inequality in college completion and at the same time, boost economic recovery in their communities by producing more college graduates,” Mr. Felsenthal said.
A regional approach
EAB will provide Carthage and the other participating institutions with technology and advisory services, as well as research that will enhance the work ongoing at each institution.
Carthage has already taken a variety of steps to ensure students progress toward a degree. The College’s First in the Family program for first-generation students has improved persistence from the first year to senior year by 7 percentage points. And, after revamping the Student Financial Services office, this fall the College’s first- to second-year retention rate rose by 3 percentage points overall.
“We changed how and when we communicate with students and have understood more deeply how we can help them overcome their obstacles,” President Swallow said. “But we have more to do. And we believe a regional approach will work better than independent efforts by individual schools, because we can learn from each other.”
As part of the Moon Shot initiative, all four institutions will receive equity-mindedness training from outside experts and implement 15 research-based best practices proven to remove systemic barriers to success. The schools will collaborate to establish common academic pathways to facilitate student transfers between two- and four-year institutions. In addition, participating schools will receive expert guidance from national Moon Shot mentors Houston GPS and Georgia State University.
“Over the past decade, Georgia State — an early EAB partner — has increased its graduation rate by 23 percentage points, eliminating race and income as predictors of college completion,” President Swallow said. “We are committing to bring that success to southeastern Wisconsin.”
“EAB’s focus on research-based, proven practices makes the Moon Shot for Equity a powerful catalyst to erase equity gaps in higher education,” said Georgia State’s Tim Renick, senior vice president for enrollment and student success.
Participating institutions also will partner with local high schools and community-based organizations to help more underserved students attend college by providing them with resources and information on how to identify best-fit universities, search for scholarships, and connect with counselors. These resources, offered through College Greenlight, will be provided free of charge.