Curriculum and Courses in Urban Ecosystems

Closing the Gap: Groundbreaking Project Aims to Improve Gateway Course Outcomes for Historically Marginalized Students in Michigan and California

The Gardner Institute, in partnership with Motivate Lab and Damour Systems, launched the second stage of this Kresge Foundation supported Gateways to Completion work with postsecondary institutions in urban ecosystems in June of 2021. Applying lessons learned about impact and scale from the recently concluded (February 2020) and highly successful Kresge Foundation-funded Michigan Gateways to Completion  project, this new phase focuses on addressing significant issues that have come to the forefront as a result of the global pandemic.

Reports of lower enrollment of students facing financial hardship and from historically marginalized racial and ethnic populations, particularly at community colleges and at regional comprehensive institutions, make addressing already problematic outcomes in gateway courses and the curriculum of which those courses are a part even more of an imperative. The resulting new effort is designed to build on the success of the Michigan Gateways to Completion by combining gateway course redesign and curricular analytics in order to better serve historically marginalized populations enrolled in gateway courses at urban colleges and universities in Michigan and California.


• To improve student success—as measured by  student learning, belonging, grades, retention, persistence, and completion rates—through the creation and implementation of gateway course redesign plans.

• To apply redesign plans to at least 50% of all sections of the courses that are being redesigned.

• To address equity gaps in gateway courses—to ensure that historically underrepresented students start, succeed in, and complete courses in degree pathways with high workplace value

Institutional Partners

Logo of California State University San Bernardino
Chaffey College logo with red image and white mountain outline
white background blue words Henry Ford College with grey road
Blue M and yellow banner with Dearborn across M

Organizational Partners

Funding Partner

Key Insights

  • Five institutions with a combined enrollment of nearly 80,000 students participating from California and Michigan.
  • 44% of students are from historically underrepresented populations (Latinx, Black, Indigenous) and 42% of students receive a Pell grant.
  • The participating institutions have analyzed 49 separate curriculum maps and discovered specific areas of blockage in gateway courses and curriculum pathways on which to focus.

Next Steps

  • Gardner Institute and Damour will continue to help institutions refine curricular analytics work based on evidence collected.
    • Gardner Institute will continue supporting Gateways to Completion course redesign based on collected evidence.
  • Participating institutions will provide the Gardner Institute with annual updates of post-census data sets.
  • Gardner Institute will conduct analysis of lagging indicators to share with participants and other appropriate audiences.


colleges and universities and over 67,000 students served.
0 %
students are from historically underrepresented populations
separate curriculum maps created

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