Map of Institutions participating in Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience™

Gardner Institute Announces Bold National Effort to Transform the Foundational Postsecondary Experience

The first cohort of 11 institutions takes on the challenge of redesigning the first two years of college so every student can graduate; additional cohorts to follow.

Brevard, NC- September 15, 2023

The Gardner Institute, a leading national non-profit organization focused on teaching, learning, and student success, is pleased to announce the launch of a new national initiative, Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience™. The effort aims to close performance gaps and improve student success outcomes in ways that move toward eliminating factors such as demographics and zip code as the best predictors of who gets to graduate.

The Foundational Postsecondary Experience refers to the critical first two years of college education and typically involves the accumulation of sixty-semester credits toward a degree. Gardner Institute research shows that anywhere from 75% to 85% of all attrition occurs sometime during the first two years of college. Through a process of system redesign, institutions participating in the effort will develop and implement plans over a five-year period to close inequitable performance gaps, enhance teaching and learning practices, and promote student success, completion, and retention.

The initiative has been made possible, in part, through the generous support of Ascendium Education Group, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ECMC Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation. These organizations share the vision of creating a more equitable education system and have provided financial support to implement the Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience effort.

“These eleven inaugural institutions recognize that it takes an extraordinary amount of time and dedication to make significant changes in student learning and success,” said Andrew (Drew) Koch, the Chief Executive Officer of the Gardner Institute. “The reality is that too often higher education experiences are structured so that demographics and zip code are the primary determining factors of a student’s ability to succeed. These institutions want to change that.”

The eleven participating institutions in the inaugural Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience cohort enroll nearly 115,000 undergraduate students. Over two-fifths (43%) of those students receive a Pell Grant; over two-fifths (41%) of the students identify as African American, Hispanic, Indigenous, or two or more races. The institutions include:

“These institutions are focused on fulfilling their commitment to the communities they serve. Doing so compels the institutions to examine and redesign experiences so that students learn and succeed at optimal levels,” said Koch.  “Colleges and universities must have high expectations for their students. They must also have high expectations for how they teach and support the students they serve. These institutions, as well as the subsequent cohorts that will follow, are to be credited for focusing on what they control, and whom they serve, so they can build a more effective and equitable undergraduate experience.”

Over the course of the next five years, the selected institutions will work closely with the Gardner Institute to develop and implement strategies that will lead to a more inclusive and equitable postsecondary experience. By the end of this initiative, it is anticipated that these institutions will be on the path toward eliminating demographics and zip codes as the primary determinant of student success and degree completion.

“We will be adding additional cohorts to this effort over the years ahead,” commented Koch. “We invite any interested institution to join the first eleven colleges and universities in this work.”

The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education is a non-profit that partners with colleges, universities, philanthropic organizations, and others to help them create and implement strategic plans for student success focused on improving teaching, learning, retention, and completion. Through doing so, the Institute strives to advance higher education’s larger equity, social mobility, and social justice goals.

Media Contact:

Katie Locke

Director of Communications, Marketing, and Engagement

News & Updates

Sign up to receive the latest updates and resources from the Gardner Institute.

EGovt Template - Mad UX © 2020. All Rights Reserved