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Grantee Video Spotlight: University Innovation Alliance

April 24, 2020

The gap between high and low-income students continues to grow in postsecondary education. Between 1970 and 2013, the six-year graduation rate among students in the top income quartile rose from 40% to 77%. Over the same four decades, the graduation rate for the lowest income quartile increased from 6% to 9%.

The University Innovation Alliance, or UIA, is a national coalition of 11 public research universities working to address this disparity and increase the number and diversity of college graduates in the United States. The UIA has coordinated a first-of-its-kind effort by piloting and scaling interventions across member campuses and sharing insights with the higher education sector. The UIA’s work has also caught national attention, and has earned hundreds of media mentions from publications such as Forbes, Washington Post, POLITICO, and Inside Higher Ed.

In 2017, ECMC Foundation granted the UIA $600,000 to increase the UIA’s capacity to help their member campuses graduate more students from low-income backgrounds. Today, the UIA is on track to exceed its original goal of 68,000 additional degrees in 10 years. UIA institutions have already produced over 53,000 additional degrees in six years and are on track to produce a total of 130,000 additional graduates by 2023. UIA members have already increased their number of graduates from low-income backgrounds by 32% and graduates of color by 56%.

ECMC Foundation’s grant supported the UIA central team and provided critical operational support during a time of growth for the organization. Over the last two years, the UIA has added three key roles to advance campus engagement and network impact: a Director of Operations, a Director of the Fellows Program and Network Engagement, and a Director of Partnerships, Learning, and Evaluation. In year two of the ECMC Foundation grant, the UIA also hosted its first National Summit, which provided networking and professional development opportunities to more than 400 attendees representing over 75 colleges and universities.

Over the next three years, the UIA plans to grow its membership and develop additional engagement models to expand its innovative interventions even further.

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