When President Obama challenged colleges, philanthropists, and nonprofits to do more to lower the barriers to higher education for disadvantaged students, the Kresge Foundation answered not just, "Yes, we can," but "Yes, we will."
At a White House summit on higher education Jan. 15, Kresge's education program director, Bill Moses, announced the Michigan-based funder would provide $1 million to the California Community Foundation to support the Los Angeles Scholars Investment Fund. This program provides an array of supports, including college counseling, academic preparation, financial aid, and mentoring, all designed to help more L.A. youths earn college degrees.
But Kresge's answer to the presidential challenge doesn't stop there. The foundation also will partner with Jobs For the Future to help launch at least three new statewide student success centers. The centers support community colleges' efforts to improve student outcomes. Kresge's commitment to these centers is consistent with its past actions to support and expand higher education access. The foundation supports student success centers in Arkansas, Ohio, Texas, and its home state of Michigan.
Working to expand college access is not new for Kresge, which strives to propel more underrepresented students into higher education through its Pathways To and Through College program. In 2013, the Kresge Foundation gave more than $7 million to various nonprofits dedicated to expanding college access and academic success, especially for low-income and first-generation college students. Key recipients of Kresge funding included the Michigan College Access Network, the American Indian College Fund, and Complete College America.
In addition to its Pathways To and Through College Program, Kresge also uses higher education as part of its program to include quality of life in Detroit, where the foundation has an office. Grants in 2013 under the foundation's Detroit program included $1.5 million to Wayne State University's Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program, and $110,000 to Marygrove College, an independent liberal arts school in Detroit.