Now more than ever, philanthropy seeks to use its grant making and voice to build and support equity for historically marginalized communities. Toward that end, postsecondary education is an important area of investment because it is a critical pathway to economic mobility and stability. At the same time, colleges are serving a growing number of students from historically underserved groups—including students experiencing poverty and students of color. The Working Students Success Network (WSSN) originates from the efforts of several national foundations to work collaboratively with community colleges to promote an equity agenda by offering holistic student supports and transforming their institutional culture. In this brief, we present findings from follow-up case studies of two of the original WSSN colleges (see Box 1 for details).
We organize the findings from the case studies in line with WSSN’s strategic themes of equity and holistic student supports. We conclude with a discussion of implications for colleges, funders, and other stakeholders interested in equitable postsecondary outcomes.