Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success

January 14, 2021

Postsecondary Success Notes | Moving forward in turbulent times


The past several weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster. Hopefully, you had some time to unplug and recharge during the break. We turned the page on 2020, but not on the ongoing pandemic and its disruptions. And we all witnessed the events of January 6. I have toggled between shock, sadness, and anger at the hate-fueled insurrection and overt expression of white supremacy culture inside the seat of our government.

Our work must continue, and events at the end of 2020 give me encouragement and pause amid the tumult.

On the encouraging side, Congress came together to improve and expand access to financial aid, which will help more than two million students a year. This would not have happened without tireless effort by many of our partners over many years.

At the same time, we face immediate challenges. Enrollment is down, particularly among community college and first-time students. While the drop is not surprising and less than some had predicted, any backsliding demands our attention – and action.

And there was mixed news. Americans still believe strongly in the value of postsecondary education, but the pandemic has put a dent in their confidence.

So let’s continue into 2021 knowing that flipping a page on the calendar doesn’t eliminate the challenges we face and at the same time recognizing that real progress is possible and within reach.

Patrick Methvin