collaborationIncome inequality among Americans has widened dramatically over the past three decades, and the correlation between the income level of one’s family and the level of education achieved flies in the face of the American dream.

It is time for colleges to look beyond their individual campuses and boldly act together to clarify and create new measurements, practices, systems, and structures to better serve the needs of our country and our global community. It is time for new thinking, and it is time for new voices to be heard.

The Yes We Must Coalition is the only organization in higher education specifically focused on small, non-profit, private institutions that primarily serve students from low-income backgrounds. These are the students who need to complete their college degrees so that America can grow its global economic competitiveness, enhance national security and well-being and increase the percentage of the population who are college graduates. These are the students — often the first in their families to attend college, often students of color or students from rural white America — whom our member institutions serve as their primary undergraduate population.

With more than 30 member institutions across the country, the influence of the Coalition on a national scale is gaining strength. By providing opportunities for member institutions to come together to talk with each other and explore collaborations — both across campuses and on individual campuses — the Coalition is helping to raise awareness of the benefits of collaborative approaches for addressing the needs of YWMC students and creating a higher education experience that fits the realities and responsibilities of their lives.

The Coalition is grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The Teagle Foundation, College Possible, and Ascendium Education Group for supporting its work. Their funding reaffirms the mission of the Coalition and the value of collaboration as a way to put students first and find solutions to educational inequity that work.