Over the past 50 years, the way we live, work, and learn has changed radically. The postsecondary sector has been slow to keep up. While a postsecondary education remains an essential precursor to entering a professional career, it is elusive to many, especially students from low-income families. Many who enter postsecondary education do not complete their degrees, and those who do often enter the job market saddled with excessive debt that, in turn, prevents them from building the generational wealth instrumental to economic mobility. Despite increases in college enrollment, economic mobility has been on a steep decline in the United States since the 1940s.
To address this issue, Carnegie is working to catalyze improvements in economic and social mobility for underrepresented students in the postsecondary sector nationwide. We have established the Center for Postsecondary Innovation to work nationwide to identify the trends, opportunities, and challenges facing the sector; elevate institutions that address economic mobility effectively; mine and share promising practices; catalyze networked improvement communities; and identify, amplify, and help instantiate new and emergent models of postsecondary education that effectively serve underrepresented students.
Second, we have partnered with the American Council on Education to develop new and refined versions of the Carnegie Classifications to better reflect the public purpose, mission, focus, and impact of higher education. This includes working together to add a new classification examining the extent to which institutions of higher education address their public purpose by enabling social and economic mobility nationwide. The Social and Economic Mobility Classification will reflect an institution’s commitment to and success in achieving those goals while effectively serving a diverse, inclusive student populace.
Third, we have also partnered with the African Leadership University to establish and evaluate a new, scalable postsecondary model in the United States, designed to create a pipeline of exceptional American and African students into wealth-generating and purposeful careers such as technology and financial services—two of the highest growth and least diverse sectors in the American economy.