Policy Leadership Trust for Student Success at JFF

Postsecondary State Policy

Strengthening State Policies to Advance Postsecondary Success and Careers

Advising states and community college systems on developing accelerated pathways through community college and strengthening policies to help more students graduate with a high-value credential.

Michael Lawrence Collins
Vice President, Building Educational Pathways
617.728.4446 x190

Policy Leadership Trust for Student Success at JFF

What Is the Trust?

With the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Jobs for the Future convenes the Policy Leadership Trust for Student Success to support a robust exchange between state- and institutional-level leaders, national expert advisors, and JFF staff to examine the current evidence on postsecondary completion. The Policy Leadership Trust provides states and institutions with a blueprint for what postsecondary policies, structures, and systems the evidence suggests should be implemented.

Why Is the Trust Needed?

After a decade of college completion reform, there is compelling evidence on what works to help the most students persist and succeed, especially those who are low-income or underserved. The field has shifted from piloting isolated interventions to designing and implementing unified, connected solutions across structures and systems within and among community colleges. However, many unanswered questions and obstacles to scaled implementation remain. More in-depth knowledge on effective models is needed to accelerate postsecondary reforms at a pace that—by year 2025—will qualify enough students to fill 65 percent of the jobs requiring a college credential. For the most part now, states are not fully leveraging experiences and lessons of other states to accelerate reform.

The Policy Leadership Trust meets the need for:

  • A national venue for thought leadership to set a common vision and unified voice for the policies, structures, systems, technical assistance and capacity building supports that need to be in place to support institutional transformation and policy and systems change reforms
  • Cross-state sharing of what good postsecondary reform looks like on the ground
  • Actionable intelligence to support or influence reform efforts, such as frameworks, implementation playbooks, and tools and templates, which states and institutions can adapt to fit their distinct contexts.

Vision and Goals

The Policy Leadership Trust seeks to ensure community colleges become a more effective and efficient path to credentials, jobs, and further education for underrepresented young people andadults in order to increase their opportunity and economic mobility. To achieve this vision, the Policy Leadership Trust has established the following goals:

  1. Be visible in the discourse on postsecondary reform.
  2. Fuel a national conversation about state efforts to support institutional transformation.
  3. Be identifiable in actions taken by states, as they are informed by deep state and college experience.
  4. Influence the adoption and implementation of structured / guided pathways.
  5. Provide actionable intelligence to the growing network of Student Success Centers and drive their strategic direction.

Trust Task Forces

The Trust comprises more than 50 participants from leading states, among them college presidents, state community college system heads, and leaders of state networks and support organizations. Each member participates in one of four task forces focused on:

Deliberations of the Trust

The policy perspectives of the Policy Leadership Trust appear in a series of publications. The task force webpages (linked above) contain meeting notes. JFF also drew on the first round of task force meetings to produce an overview of the Trust's policy principles. Additionally, after the Trust convened in late 2016, JFF produced a brief reflecting perspectives on cross-cutting policy issues affecting student success and scaling of guided pathways.

“This group is part think tank and part policy laboratory,” says Michael Collins, vice president at JFF. “We’re not looking for checklist strategies and easy wins but for systematic ways to design and implement policies to support effective on-the-ground innovations at scale. We expect the Trust to drive significant changes as it tackles the hardest issues to improve outcomes for students, campuses, and states.”
For additional information contact: Michael Collins, Vice President, mcollins@jff.org