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Targeting a different point in the pipeline

  • an update on student-success prize money.
  • two takeaways from a brief on leader-student communication from my colleague Maura Mahoney.
  • a reading list featuring research on community-college baccalaureate programs, ideas for raising the representation of women in tech, and local advocacy for dual enrollment.
  • my weekly picks from The Chronicle.

Remember that student-success prize that was never awarded by the Robin Hood Foundation? Well, this week the foundation, which is devoted to fighting poverty in New York City, announced that it was reallocating some of the $5 million that was originally designated for an app (or apps) that would help increase completion rates among students at the City University of New York by at least 15 percentage points. The funds will now be shared by 50 early-childhood-education nonprofits in the city. “Inspired by where we went wrong” last time (setting the bar for its college-success prize too high), said Courtney Ridgway, Robin Hood’s senior communications manager, the foundation has now given $25,000 no-strings-attached grants to the 50 organizations, 10 of which will get a second grant, of $250,000, next winter. Then up to three will receive $1 million in 2023 “to further scale their efforts and impact within their community.”

I asked if the foundation had shifted its focus from postsecondary to early-childhood education, and Ridgway said not exactly. “We know if you can make these interventions early in life, they can be more impactful,” she explained. But Robin Hood is still supporting higher education, including with $11 million in grants to CUNY programs in 2021, notably one at LaGuardia Community College to re-engage former students.

Two ideas to help leaders communicate with students.

The challenges of the last two years have, on the whole, “increased empathy, transparency, and candor” between college leaders and students, Alexander C. Kafka, a senior editor at The Chronicle, writes in a new report on their vital interaction. He spoke with 15 presidents to share their insights on effective communication, as part of our yearlong series on student success supported by the Ascendium Education Group. Here are two takeaways (and you can read his entire piece here).

Be visible and accessible. Michael V. Martin, president of Florida Gulf Coast University, grabs coffee in the student union every day from 7:30 to 8:15. Students know they can walk up and let him know what’s on their minds, whether parking complaints or more serious issues. James M. MacLaren, president of Lebanon Valley College, in Pennsylvania, learns a lot by just sitting down next to students in the dining hall and starting a conversation.

Have some fun! Jonathan G.S. Koppell, president of Montclair State University, in New Jersey, has appeared in superhero costumes on TikTok, joined students picking up trash in a nearby park, and DJ’d for the college’s radio station. Presidents who are willing to not take themselves too seriously can come across as humans in what might seem like a distant, formal role. -Maura Mahoney

Check these out.

Here are some education-related items from other outlets that recently caught my eye. Did I miss a good one? Let me know.

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