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USF Helps Launch Unprecedented National Effort to Increase College Access, Equity and Postsecondary Attainment

The University of South Florida today announced it is participating in a massive new national effort in which 130 public universities and systems will work together to increase college access, close the achievement gap and award hundreds of thousands more degrees by 2025. The participating institutions will work within “clusters” of up to 12 institutions as they concurrently implement innovative and effective practices to advance student success on their campuses. Collectively, the institutions enroll three million students, including one million students who receive Pell Grants.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is organizing the collaborative effort, known as Powered by Publics: Scaling Student Success. According to APLU, this represents the largest-ever collaborative effort to improve college access, advance equity and increase college degrees awarded. In addition to committing to those goals, participating institutions have pledged to share aggregate data demonstrating their progress to help spur lasting change across the higher education sector.

“At USF, we are driven by our desire to make a difference in the lives of our students, our communities and society at large,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft. “Our institutional focus on student success has been central to these efforts, and we’re proud to be at forefront of developing positive changes on a national level. I’m confident this new APLU collaboration will help us make an even bigger impact, as well as build important new connections with our peers around the country.”

USF has become a national leader in student success, earning recognition in recent years from several highly-regarded organizations. Through a university-wide commitment and strategic investments, USF has improved its six-year graduation rate from 51 percent to 71 percent and eliminated the achievement gap by race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, both rare achievements in higher education.

Earlier this year, the Foundation for Student Success selected USF to serve as a mentor to three other universities across the country. The partnership allows the institutions to learn about the cutting-edge policies, programs, services and practices that are in place at USF to help with student retention and progression toward timely graduation.

USF’s cluster for the APLU-led initiative includes eight other institutions, primarily from the eastern United States.

“Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a real and growing enthusiasm among public university leaders to advance college completion nationally,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “We have to seize the moment and mobilize institutions to improve not just college access, but also equity in student outcomes and the number of students who earn degrees. That’s what Powered by Publics is all about and why we’re thrilled to work with our member institutions toward such an important national goal.”

By design, the participating institutions reflect a wide array of institutional characteristics such as enrollment, student demographics, regional workforce needs and selectivity. The broad diversity of the institutions is intended to help create a playbook of adaptable student success reforms that can be adopted and scaled up across a variety of institution types, including those with limited resources.

An FAQ on the new national effort is available here.

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