Yes We Must Coalition Announces Commitment To Expand College Access at White House Event

President Obama, Michele Obama, VP Joe Biden

On December 4, 2014, representatives from the Yes We Must Coalition joined President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden, along with other college presidents and higher education leaders, to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

In attendance from the Coalition were:

  • Vinton Thompson, Metropolitan College New York
  • Michael Sorrell, Paul Quinn College
  • Gloria Nemerowicz, YWMC President
  • Edward O. Jackson, Bethune-Cookman University
  • Marcia Hawkins, Union College KY
  • Tom Foley, Mount Aloysius College
  • David Fike, Marygrove College
  • Jorge Diaz-Herrera, Keuka College
  • Bassam Deeb, Trocaire College
  • Jennifer Braaten, Ferrum College

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action was held to support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

The members of the Yes We Must Coalition committed to producing 500 additional college graduates by 2020 and in every year thereafter and another 200 additional graduates by 2025 for a cumulative total of 3,200 additional graduates by 2025.

To help schools in the Coalition reach the completion goal, Yes We Must commits to working with Coalition campuses to develop a Working Institute where campus teams will develop implementation plans and outcome measures focused in three key areas associated with college success for low-income students. At the Institute, to be held in November 2015, members will:

  • Explore financial models, including financial aid, revenue generation and cost cutting, for small, underfunded institutions in order to streamline costs, control student debt and stabilize institutional financial health;
  • Improve the curriculum to career connection from the beginning of the academic journey and strengthen the career services offered to students throughout their college career; and
  • Develop more streamlined and deliberate pathways to graduation and use learning outcomes assessment relevant for our student populations.

The Coalition will research evidenced-based practices in each of these three areas and the Institute will provide the opportunity to share, discuss, and adopt promising and effective practices across campuses. The Coalition anticipates seeing changes resulting from the work at the Institute to be ready for students entering in the fall of 2016 with anticipated increases in graduation outcomes from 2020 onward.