UW-Madison: Researcher awarded $1.5 million to study ‘models of success’ at minority-serving institutions

CONTACT: Clifton Conrad, 608-263-3411, [email protected]

MADISON – Clifton Conrad, a professor in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, along with Marybeth Gasman of the University of Pennsylvania, has been awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education, USA Funds and the Kresge Foundation.

Consisting of $500,000 from each of the funding agencies, the grant will be used to study “models of success” that help students finish their degrees at minority-serving institutions, including historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and Native American tribal colleges.

“This research is focused on degree attainment, which is one of the tenets of the Obama administration, as well as several major foundations,” Conrad says. “The work will provide valuable insights on how we can do better for minority students in higher education and be more competitive on a global scale.”

“This is an example of three philanthropic organizations coming together in a collaborative way to support minority-serving institutions while investigating and investing in student retention and degree attainment,” Gasman says. “We are identifying and examining the best practices that can be shared with other institutions of higher education to increase graduation rates among students of color.”

Through a competitive application process, Conrad and Gasman will choose nine minority-serving institutions to participate in the study. Each will receive a $50,000 grant to bolster its practices and further enhance its programs for student retention and degree attainment.

“Minority-serving institutions represent a great opportunity to make significant gains toward the nation’s goal of becoming the most educated in the world,” says James T. Minor, director of higher education programs at the Southern Education Foundation in Atlanta and a supporter of the project. “Collectively, these institutions are rich laboratories of exemplary educational practices and student success.”

“All of us in higher education have a lot to learn from minority-serving institutions and by making these investments and doing this research, our funders and our research team are interested in elevating examples of outstanding programs and practices at these institutions,” Conrad says.

The research project envisions other positive outcomes. Researchers hope to improve data collection infrastructure at participating minority-serving institutions and share successful models with other colleges and universities.

Lumina Foundation for Education (http://www.luminafoundation.org) is an Indianapolis-based private foundation dedicated to expanding access to and success in education beyond high school.

USA Funds, also based in Indianapolis, is a nonprofit organization working to enhance postsecondary education preparedness, access and success.

The Kresge Foundation, based in Detroit, is a $3.1 billion private foundation that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations and marginalized populations through its work in health, the environment, community development, arts and culture, education and human services.