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What We Do

Our vision is a U.S. higher education system that propels social mobility and economic development. We believe that you cannot achieve economic empowerment without academic achievement. That’s why the goal of the Postsecondary Success team is to ensure that students complete a postsecondary program that helps them support themselves, engage in their communities, and achieve their dreams.

Despite its deserved reputation as the great equalizer, the bridge to a better life that is higher education remains too narrow, too hard to navigate, and carries a toll too high for many Americans. The result? Too few are able to take advantage of the powerful opportunity on the other side. This is especially true for students from low-income backgrounds, those who are the first in their family to go to college, and students of color. Today, only one in 10 of young adults from the lowest income quartile will complete a certificate or degree by age 24.


Unless we dramatically improve student success in higher education, our nation will suffer from a shortage of skilled workers needed to ensure global competitiveness and national security. We are currently on track to produce at least 11 million fewer career-relevant certificates and degrees than our economy will require by 2025.

We work with partners to transform higher education models for colleges and universities so that more students – especially low-income and first-generation students – graduate at higher rates, with high-quality degrees or certificates at an affordable price.

Find out how we work with partners to solve some of today’s toughest problems in higher education by exploring the Grantees, How We Work, and Areas of Focus sections of our website, viewing the Postsecondary Success Strategy Overview One-pager, and watching the video below.

Our Team

Led by Dr. Daniel Greenstein, the Postsecondary Success team brings a wealth and diversity of educational experiences, relevant practical skills and understandings, and problem-solving expertise to the challenges facing higher education. Every one of our talented staff is dedicated to removing barriers to postsecondary access and completion for all students.

How To Join

Generally, we invite proposals by contacting organizations directly. However, we do occasionally award grants through published Requests for Proposals (RFPs) or letters of inquiry. Please visit How We Work to learn more about our grant making process. For information on jobs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, please visit our careers page at Working at the Foundation.


Emergency Aid Keeps Students on Path to Graduation

July 6, 2016

Although students and their families plan for the cost of tuition, fees, housing, and textbooks,
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The Typical College Student Is Not Who You Think It Is

July 5, 2016

Who are today’s college students? The answer surprises most people who attended four year universities.
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‘Passport’ for Transfer

Professors and academic leaders from seven western states have rolled out an “interstate passport” to
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College deadlines complicate Early FAFSA

The Obama administration’s new Oct. 1 FAFSA release date was supposed to make it easier
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Families Often Underestimate Financial Aid Eligibility

Just 24 percent of parents and 37 percent of students believe they will qualify for
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Community college students are filling the rolls at four-year institutions

Public colleges and universities are drawing a large percentage of their students from community colleges,
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Study casts doubt on value of remedial math for college

June 27, 2016

Colleges routinely force students with weak math skills to take remedial classes before enrolling in
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Minnesota community colleges clear a path for four-year degrees

For many students, community college is the first step toward earning a bachelor’s degree. But
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Texas HBCU Launches Think Tank to Groom Next Generation of Black Leaders

One of the oldest HBCUs in the nation is working to cultivate the next generation
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College Unaffordable Even in Higher Income Brackets

College is becoming less and less affordable to more and more families higher and higher
Read more


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