Why Equity Matters for Adult College Completion

Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica
Dec 12, 2019
Ann E. Person, Julie Bruch, and Lisbeth Goble

Key recommendations from the study:

  • Set clear, measureable, and relevant equity goals.
  • Engage adult learners and people of color to understand their perspectives.
  • Recognize and proactively address financial barriers that exist for adult students of color.

There is a growing movement across the country to get more adults to enroll in college and complete higher education programs. Fewer than half of the nearly 170 million U.S. residents between the ages of 25 and 64 have obtained a postsecondary degree or certificate. The statistics for adult students of color who have attained higher education are even lower. About 46 percent of White adults hold a college degree, compared to only 22 percent of Native American, 24 percent of Latino, and 30 percent of Black adults. To increase the number of American adults who enroll in and complete higher education programs, Lumina Foundation launched the Adult Promise Pilot Program in 2017 to help states develop and implement innovative programs to engage adult learners. Adult Promise state grantees have also committed to adhering to the foundation’s commitment to racial equity by implementing postsecondary completion initiatives that focus on creating opportunities that support Black, Latino, and Native American adults. As the evaluation partner for Lumina Foundation, Mathematica interviewed and surveyed Adult Promise grantees to share with the foundation insights about how program leaders and their partners incorporate a racial equity focus into their initiatives.

In this issue brief, Mathematica researchers highlight how Adult Promise grantees support adult learners of color complete college through state-level goal setting, outreach and recruitment, financial supports, and completion strategies. They also offer some overarching reflections for stakeholders in postsecondary education seeking to engage in similar efforts.

Senior Staff

Julie Bruch
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Ann Person
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Lisbeth Goble
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