Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success

For more than a decade, we and our partners have been working closely with a diverse set of colleges and universities seeking to make changes that will help many more students – especially low-income and first-generation students, students of color, and working adults – achieve their educational goals.

Pressure is mounting for colleges and universities to transform themselves to become more student-centered. Changing demographics, increasing demand for educated workers, intensifying financial pressures, and wavering public confidence are pushing a growing number of institutions to rethink and redesign their programs and services.

Initiatives such as Completion by Design and the Frontier Set have taught us a lot about what institutional transformation means, and that it is possible but not easy. One of the most important lessons is the need for partners that can connect campuses with each other and with experts and resources, and that can help guide institutions through adopting, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining changes in policy and practice.

The Intermediaries

We have identified 12 organizations – Intermediaries for Scale – that will serve transforming colleges and universities as connectors, advisors, and strategists:

 Achieving the Dream   American Association of State Colleges and Universities
 American Indian Higher Education Consortium  Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities
 Complete College America  E3 Alliance
 Excelencia in Education  Growing Inland Achievement
 John N Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education  MDRC
 Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities UNCF (United Negro College Fund)


These organizations – plus Jobs for the Future, a pilot intermediary – have demonstrated commitment and experience in supporting institutions as they reduce college success disparities by race and income; promoting continuous learning and improvement through the use of data; and identifying, implementing, and evaluating significant campus-level changes in policy and practice. Collectively, these groups work with or represent nearly three-quarters of the nation’s public two- and four-year institutions.

The Work

The intermediaries will focus on four priorities, working with a range of organizations in our innovation and institutional partnerships portfolios:

  • Increase awareness of colleges’ and universities’ efforts to transform themselves to become more student-centered.
  • Inform campus-level decision-making (and decision-makers) about options, opportunities, and risks related to adopting and implementing policies and practices designed to improve student outcomes.
  • Support transformation efforts by providing guidance on changing policies and practices and measuring the impact and effectiveness of those changes.
  • Build connections among colleges and universities and supporting organizations to promote timely and efficient exchange of best practices and lessons learned.

In the first phase of the work (2020-2021), the intermediaries will build their capability to support colleges and universities interested in student-centered transformation. This includes learning and applying data and assessment tools for colleges and universities, evaluating current capacity to support transformation efforts and identifying areas for improvement, and developing strategic plans for working with institutions and partner organizations. The longer-term goal is for intermediaries to be collectively engaged with at least 300 colleges and universities over the next several years in different but complementary ways.

Learn More

For more information about the intermediaries, how they were selected, and what they will do, please consult our fact sheet and frequently asked questions. Contact us at with any questions.