The United States' single greatest collective investment in human capital -- and in its future generations -- is public education. Yet today that investment is generating very poor returns for low-income students.
Members of the lowest-income U.S. families are 10 times less likely to earn a bachelor's degree than members of the highest-income families. This situation would be troubling in any environment, but with income inequality only increasing and global job competitiveness intensifying every year, it is downright dangerous -- not just for low-income students but for society at large. While a field-level conversation about the college access, persistence, and completion challenges that face low-income students has been slow in coming, we believe that conversation is now imperative.
Our new report Brighter Futures outlines the problem, the state of the field, and how to collectively intensify the ways we address these pressing challenges:
- Improve coordination between key actors: between high schools and colleges, within the college community, among nonprofit organizations, and between actors in the field and parents/communities
- Create clarity around metrics -- and what drives successful outcomes
- Look beyond the traditional definition of "student".