Unlocking Opportunity: Project Offerings & Expectations

Across the three-year reform period, colleges will receive extensive support from Aspen, CCRC, and others. Colleges will be expected to engage consistently with these offerings throughout the project:
  • Coaching and Seminar Sessions: In-person and virtual support from experts (including former college presidents) who have deep knowledge of the reforms and change management needed to accomplish the goals of Unlocking Opportunity.
  • Presidential and Senior Team Leadership: Developing a vision and goals aligned to the project's core objectives: changing enrollments to increase alignment to high-value pathways, including for students of color and low-income students. Presidents and their designated senior team members will be expected to lead vision- and goal-setting and be engaged during the implementation of strategy throughout the duration of the project, including by being present at every annual in-person session, annual site visits, quarterly Network presidents’ meetings, and other virtual sessions related to strategy development and review of progress towards goals.
  • Project Leadership and Staff Involvement: Each Unlocking Opportunity institution will appoint a main point of contact to serve as a project lead with Aspen and CCRC, a data and analytics lead to report data, and a communications lead to coordinate the release of research and other public information. These individuals plus the president and other key senior team members will form a core group participating in Unlocking Opportunity. Other academic and student support leaders will be invited to engage in events throughout the initiative based on the relevance of their roles and responsibilities to the programming and sessions hosted by Aspen and CCRC.
  • Institutional Research and Assessment: During the three-year grant period and for three years after, Aspen and CCRC will require that institutions submit, and will work with participating institutions to analyze data related to program enrollment, completion, and outcomes, all disaggregated by race and socioeconomic status. Colleges will also complete and submit research-based qualitative assessments that help college teams and researchers identify strengths and gaps in areas such as program review, delivery models, transfer practices, student advising, and more. Aspen and CCRC will also conduct site visits and interviews to learn more about the culture and strategy at each institution, both to support reform on participating campuses and to generate insights for the field. In addition, Aspen will continue to conduct lighter touch research for a three-year period following completion of the reform period to document impact and share additional lessons with the field.
  • Network Expertise and Field Leadership: Aspen anticipates that colleges engaged in this project will accomplish substantial reforms building on their work prior to the project’s inception. To take advantage of that experience and expertise, Unlocking Opportunity is envisioned as a Network of presidents, senior team members and others. College teams will provide real-time examples and advice relevant to enacting ongoing reforms and support one another to address challenges during structured peer consultancy. During and after the project, members of the Network will also become ambassadors for their proven change management strategies and reforms, sharing with peers across the field. 
This project is made possible by support from Arnold Ventures, Ascendium, and ECMC. Aspen and CCRC are in ongoing conversations to expand resources for this ambitious project.
Contact us for more information.
Tess Henthorne, Senior Program Manager