West Chester University and Delaware County Community College announced today they have joined the “Moon Shot for Equity,” a national student-success initiative led by Washington, D.C.-based education firm EAB. As the inaugural members of the project’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Collaborative, the two schools will work together with EAB to help more students of color, and those from other historically underserved populations in the Southeastern Pennsylvania region, graduate from college.
Through this innovative partnership, each school has committed to implementing more than a dozen research-based best practices proven to remove systemic barriers to student success. These commitments range from updating academic policies, to working together to establish common academic pathways, to providing equity-mindedness training to university and college leaders. EAB will provide research, technology, and advisory services to the schools.
EAB launched the Moon Shot for Equity last October in cooperation with an inaugural consortium of colleges and universities in Southeastern Wisconsin. Since the launch, these Wisconsin schools have made significant progress, conducting equity mindedness training for more than 600 participants, reforming registration holds that prevent students from registering for classes because of minor administrative or financial complications, and improving transfer pathways to make it easier for students—and the credits they have earned—to move between higher education institutions.
Data show that barely half of all Black and Latinx students who enter college earn their undergraduate degree within six years compared with nearly 70 percent of White students. The statistics are similarly poor for first-generation students and those from families with lower incomes—regardless of race.
“The collaboration between West Chester University, Delaware County Community College, and EAB is the type of innovative partnership that can help change the entire trajectory of so many students’ lives,” says Dr. Garcia. “We applaud these schools for doing the hard work that will benefit our learners and ultimately, our entire region.”
West Chester University and Delaware County Community College have a long history of working together to increase educational opportunities for area students. Last year, the two joined forces to strengthen a dual admission agreement that now enables qualified, enrolled Delaware County Community College students to earn an associate degree and then transfer seamlessly to West Chester University in a parallel major with opportunities not typical of such agreements.
Qualified Delaware County Community College students now transfer to West Chester University with guaranteed housing, a renewable scholarship, and success coaching.
The announcement came at a time when students had increased need amidst an unyielding worldwide pandemic. “Colleges and universities have a responsibility to provide equitable access for students who have historically been excluded from their career aspirations and economic prosperity because of disparities in education,” says Delaware County Community College President Dr. L. Joy Gates Black. “Delaware County Community College and West Chester University have a rich history of working together to promote student access and success, and through Moon Shot for Equity and other initiatives, we will create and maintain an environment where all students can excel and achieve their dreams regardless of whether they are first generation students, single parents, Veterans, or students of color.” West Chester University President Dr. Christopher M. Fiorentino agrees with his colleague.
“As an institution that takes great pride in activating its access mission every day,” he says, “West Chester University is deeply committed to this critical project that will ultimately help all of us make securing higher education possible for more students of color and students who have significant financial need. It is up to us to work together to develop ways to eliminate one of the greatest barriers of our times — systemic equity gaps.”
In addition to receiving research, technology, and advisory services from EAB, all schools receive guidance from well-known student success leaders Tim Renick at Georgia State University and Paula Short at Houston GPS. Finally, participating institutions are expected to build stronger relationships with their communities by partnering with local high schools as well as local business and community leaders to help more underserved students gain access to college.
Moonshot schools can also leverage EAB’s College Greenlight program, which provides underserved students with resources and information on how to identify best-fit universities, search for scholarships, and connect with counselors.
“I have been extremely impressed by the passion and commitment that Dr. Gates Black and Dr. Fiorentino have already shown for the Moon Shot project,” added EAB’s Vice President of Partnerships Tom Sugar. “I look forward to working with both of these leaders to better serve their students and to recruit additional two- and four-year schools in the region to join us.”
Visit: eab.com/moonshot to learn more about the project.