Summit Focus Areas
With guidance and input from its Advisory Task Force, #DegreesNYC has heard from a wide variety of stakeholders about the challenges we in New York City face in closing the college and career equity gaps. #Degrees held open borough meetings, targeted stakeholder meetings with students, school counselors, and college advisors. It convened policy thinkers and researchers and engaged philanthropic leaders to learn their take on the issues and opportunities. A diverse variety of stakeholders delivered public testimony at the #DegreesNYC Community Hearing. After months of listening and learning, six key focus areas emerged as critical to equity in New York City.
- A cross-sector city-level vision for college and career pathways
- Inclusive school and community cultures with high expectations for all
- High quality advising and supports for all young people and families on the path to college and career
- Simplified policies and practices in higher education institutions
- Access to an affordable education for all
- A robust data and accountability system that supports equity
These were most the commonly cited areas and hold the greatest potential for impact.
#DegreesNYC Focus Areas
Six critical areas affecting equity in postsecondary education attainment
A cross-sector city-level vision for college and career pathways
While many groups and organizations have goals for college and career work in New York City, there is no common vision or set of goals on which we are all aligned and towards which we can all work. Creating and agreeing on a vision and goals is the first step in building a more coordinated set of programs and services with high standards for quality in the city.
Inclusive school and community cultures with high expectations for all
Currently, young people—particularly young people of color, young people from low-income communities, and other groups traditionally underrepresented in college—consistently receive both implicit and explicit messages that they do not belong in college or that they won’t make it in college. Changing this message is critical to achieving equity.
High quality advising and supports for all young people and families on the path to college and career
Many young people—particularly those traditionally underrepresented in college—are not receiving the advising and support they need to access and complete postsecondary education. Many factors have been cited as contributing to this situation – including too few counselors or advisors, too few trained knowledgeable counselors and advisors, lack of structure and program oversight of college and career services, the unclear role of counseling and advising staff, and a lack of ways to effectively collaborate. This issue exists across the pipeline.
Simplified policies and practices in higher education institutions
All students experience some bureaucracy and red tape in the process of getting to and persisting in higher education. However, there are a number of institutional policies and practices around admissions, financial aid, billing, and registering for classes that have an oversized impact on particular young people—specifically, but not limited to, those who are first-generation to college, from low-income families, or new in this country. These policies and practices can deter these young people from enrolling or persisting to a credential.
Access to an affordable higher education for all
A lack of resources to support our young people in pursuing postsecondary education is a very real barrier to increasing the number of young people—particularly those traditionally underrepresented in higher education—with a quality postsecondary credential. The college debt crisis, increasing tuition, flat state and federal grants are all threatening access to an affordable postsecondary opportunity.
A robust data and accountability system that supports equity
In order to move collectively toward the goal of equity in postsecondary education, we need to have a means to track and report on critical outcomes for young people. As a city, we have a wealth of data on our post-secondary pipeline in which students are tracked from high school through postsecondary education. We need to leverage existing data, identify and collect additional data, and build ways to use that data more effectively to ground and shape our collective and individual actions.
 These six focus areas grew out of #DegreesNYC’s engagement of key stakeholders in the spring of 2016.
*The #DegreesNYC Summit was underwritten by THE CLARK FOUNDATION.