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Sharing, connecting, learning in support of institutional transformation.

Driving Equitable Student Success - Page 11 of APLU 2021 Annual Report

APLU launched the Powered by Publics initiative three years ago with the aim of increasing undergraduate degree completion for low-income, minoritized, and first-generation students; and halving the equity gap for those students by 2025. Powered by Publics engages 125 universities and state systems from 48 states in “transformation clusters,” or peer learning communities, that are focused on continuous improvement for student success and degree completion.

Each cluster is supported by a lead institution (president and provost team) and APLU staff project manager and has been meeting regularly to investigate barriers facing student persistence, identify areas for improvement, test ideas for change, and develop tools and learning products to inform the field. The clusters are also sharing key outcomes data that will help each participating institution make progress toward longer-term objectives for completion and equity. Although each cluster has its own specific focus area (for example: advising, faculty engagement, student financial support), together their work addresses a broad spectrum of factors influencing student success.

In 2021, Powered by Publics accomplished the following in pursuit of the four strategic priorities that frame the overall initiative’s approach:

  • Published a Commitment to Equity on APLU’s website, and developed a strategy and toolkit for embedding equity into each cluster’s work. The strategy and toolkit was shared at the Powered by Publics annual meeting in early November 2021. In addition, all APLU staff cluster managers received comprehensive training in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Collected key outcomes data from more than 80 percent of Powered by Publics campuses, and released preliminary findings and trends comparing the 2021 results with those of 2020. A report will share final results with the public. Data have also been published to APLU’s interactive VSA Analytics platform. Powered by Publics launched a Data Literacy Institute engaging faculty and staff at five universities in Fall 2021, in partnership with the Association for Institutional Research and Ascendium Education Group. The Data Literacy Institute aims to create a community of practice around improving the use of data across each institution.
  • Held three “cross-cluster” webinars to share learning on common topics. These included a symposium on college affordability, with funding from the TIAA Institute; a webinar on reducing DFW rate equity gaps for minoritized and Pell students; and a workshop on coaching-based advising. APLU has also launched an interactive Learning Exchange platform where campuses can showcase their work and connect with others in the network.
  • Sixteen institutions were selected to join the Intermediaries for Scale cohort with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition to direct funding, these institutions will receive valuable services to support campus work on common topics including advising, developmental education, and digital learning.
  • APLU distributed seed funding to six clusters, selected through a competitive process, to support collaborative projects engaging the institutions in the cluster. The results of these projects were showcased at the Powered by Publics Annual Meeting in November 2021.
  • With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, APLU is participating in the Strategic Data Partnership, an initiative designed to improve APLU’s use of data and to better support data literacy among its institutions.


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APLU's 2021 Annual Report details how we continue to work with our members to meet the most pressing needs of the public university community.
Tags: Student Success, 2021, APLU Annual Report

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