Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success

As a community and a nation, we are facing unprecedented challenges in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher education institutions have curtailed face-to-face instruction and closed campuses, leaving millions of students facing housing and food insecurities. Universities and colleges are scrambling to pivot to online teaching approaches, while at the same time confronting significant risks to their own future economic viability. In these uncertain times, our foundation’s core postsecondary commitments – innovation, transformation, data/information, policy advocacy – remain the same.

At the same time, we are prioritizing four areas of work within those commitments:

Here you’ll find regularly updated information and resources—from how our foundation is responding to this crisis to the resources our partners and other organizations in the field are creating for reference and use in these unprecedented times.

LAST UPDATED: 05/29/20

How is the Gates Foundation responding?

The Optimist is the place for regularly updated information about foundation response to COVID-19.

Schools and Students During COVID-19: Q&A with USP President Allan Golston, President, U.S. Programs: Allan Golston gives his thoughts on the challenges facing education systems right now and shares what the Foundation is doing.

Colleges and Universities Respond

Georgia State University: Georgia State University’s senior vice president for student success, Tim Renick, discusses how the university quickly pivoted to online learning and how many of the support services already in place – like virtual advising and a system for emergency aid – have helped.

Lorain County Community College: LCCC’s president, Marcia Ballinger, as well as the college’s provost, Jonathan Dryden, and Marisa Vernon White, Lorain’s vice president of enrollment management and student services, discuss how the college has managed its student success efforts in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

How is higher education responding?

Official Guidance 

USDOE (guidance for distributing CARES Act emergency student support funds)

CDC (guidance for colleges, universities, and higher learning)

Other Data/Resources

National Governors Association released a framework to guide governors as they develop reopening strategies for higher education institutions. (New resource)

National College Attainment Network analyzed Federal Student Aid data showing that nearly 250,000 fewer returning students from the lowest-income backgrounds have renewed their FAFSA for the 2020-21 cycle, and FAFSA renewals overall are down nearly 5% compared to last year.

American College Health Association released a set of guidelines and considerations for reopening higher education institutions.

American Council on Education and other higher education groups released a set of principles for accepting academic credit during the pandemic.

State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) is compiling and updating plans and guidance from state higher education agencies.

Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice focuses on how students are being affected by COVID-19 and offers guidance and insight on addressing students’ basic needs at this time.

Educause has a comprehensive list of COVID-related resources, particularly guidance on transitioning to online classes and analysis on emergency distance learning.

The Frontier Set has launched an open-access repository of online resources. Categories include: academic advising (particularly virtual and tele-advising); information technology; institutional communications; event contingency planning; health and wellness; institutional finances; policy/legal issues; enrollment management; instruction (particularly remote instruction); holistic student supports/services; working remotely and more. You can also submit an online resource.

Solution Networks, supported by the foundation, has issued a new statement on COVID-19 priorities. These networks are comprised of organizations that convene providers and experts to deliver high-quality technical assistance, content and services to institutions on the topics of holistic advising, developmental education, and digital learning. The networks outlined documenting need, disseminating relevant resources, emphasizing equity, and long-term planning as top priorities at this time.

News and analysis:

Chronicle of Higher Education: Here’s a List of Colleges’ Plans for Reopening in the Fall  This resource from The Chronicle of Higher Education offers a running list of updates and announcements from institutions on their plans to reopen.