A college degree is still the surest path out of poverty for underserved students. In 2021, we supported programs that help youth navigate the extraordinary challenges in determining how, whether and where to enroll in college, and we renewed support for programs aimed at getting students to college graduation.
In 2021 we continued to fund results-driven sports-hook programs, ones that combine sport with evidence-based academic support aimed at helping low-income students access college. Our sports-hook grantees have among the highest college persistence and graduation outcomes of all our college access programs.
College applications and FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form one must complete to apply for financial aid) completion rates are down dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a low-income student does not complete the FAFSA the chances of that student attending college are slim.
We supported three initiatives this year specifically focused on improving FAFSA completion rates among New York City high school students.
In 2021, we continued to apply our venture philanthropy approach to transfer credits at CUNY. When students transfer from one college to another, they frequently are unable to count their previously earned credits toward degree requirements at their new institution, jeopardizing these students’ ability to earn degrees at their new institutions. Nationally, 43% of credits are wasted during transfer, and students who lose that many credits are far less likely to graduate than students who are able to transfer most of their credits. So we continued our support for projects aimed at developing solutions to this problem, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.