At the UIA, we’re incredibly fortunate to have 17 member campuses who are constantly bringing new ideas to the fore. Our whole reason for being is to do things differently. To try new models and approach old problems with fresh thinking. Our results speak for themselves—43% more low-income graduates and 89% more graduates of color annually, and 119,642 more graduates overall than we were on track to produce when we launched. It’s something we can all be proud of.
But one challenge I’ve been reflecting on recently is the tension between pursuing a pipeline of new ideas and sustaining solutions that are already proven to work. I’m sure you’ve seen it in your organizations—a new idea gets people excited, gains attention, and attracts resources. The idea that was new three years ago and continues to produce great results? Sure, people appreciate the impact, but it gets harder and harder to maintain support for it in the endless battle for resources.
Philanthropy plays a big part in this equation. Philanthropic organizations want to demonstrate their impact and the most visible way to do that is by funding breakthroughs. We’ve had fundraising success at the UIA because our model is built on innovation. But we also have a central support network that needs to be funded and cultivated to ensure that our big breakthroughs continue to have impact. We need to keep creating dynamic convenings, coordinating ideation among our members, building our talent pipeline of UIA Fellows, and diffusing "what works" to galvanize sector change—all of which can sound like core operations depending on the listener.
We have been really lucky to partner with an array of phenomenal funders who recognize this complexity and consider providing general operating support at times. We’re also beginning to see major givers—such as the Ford Foundation and MacKenzie Scott —publicly recognize the importance of sustaining operations and direct funding to these areas.
But when it comes to fundraising there’s definitely tension between developing new initiatives and supporting yesterday’s new initiatives that are today’s ongoing operations. This tension impacts the ability of nonprofits to be effective, as they feel they must always hunt for new projects that will appeal to funders while also being pressured to raise other resources to keep the lights on and employ the team doing the work that already works.
I’m grateful for the awesome people and organizations that are putting their money to work in ways that yield social impact. Being accountable to campuses, boards, and donors is an important responsibility we value and appreciate at the UIA. I hope as we all move forward with the shared goal of improving outcomes for students, we can do so with an equal appreciation for the exciting new approaches coming down the pike and for the once-new initiatives and everyday actions that have proven their value and deserve to be sustained.
Have you observed this tension in the nonprofit sector within your work?
How do you strike the right balance? Any ideas about potential solutions?
We hope you were able to contribute to the 2024 SXSW EDU conference Panel Picker this month, and are planning to attend next year. The UIA submitted a session focused on reimagining student success efforts by “treating all students like student-athletes,” based upon our exciting initiative (Academic Recovery) generously funded by Ascendium Education Philanthropy and inspired by the work first launched at GSU. We hope to be selected and see you in Austin, TX on March 4 - 7, 2024.
Kudos are in order to North Carolina A&T (NCAT) for its impact on the local job market in North Carolina. A new study found that the HBCU has increased its economic impact to over $2.4 billion across the state. University of California-Riverside (UCR) also admitted the highest number of first-years from underrepresented minority groups and low-income families in California and admitted 46% first-generation students. Similarly, Arizona State University (ASU) broke record enrollment numbers by welcoming more than 16,600 first-year students to its campuses and online programs.
Good luck to everyone as they head back to school this fall!
Here’s what we’re learning about this month at the UIA:
- Higher education’s relationship to socioeconomic inequities (NYT).
- Staying afloat amid rapid scale initiatives and startups (The Review).
- The case for hybrid work schedules (The Atlantic).
- How a "dopamine detox" can build better habits (Time Magazine).
- Visualizing US Wealth by Generations (Visual Capitalists).
- Who gets in to Ivy League institutions (Economist).
Events to Put on Your Radar
- September 18 - 19, 2023: AASCU Symposium for Presidents/Chancellors and Senior Leaders, Washington, D.C. (Registration Open)
- September 25 - 28, 2023: National College Learning Center Association (NCLCA) Conference, Portland, OR (Deadline to Register: September 22)
- September 27 - 30, 2023: SREE Annual Conference, Arlington, VA (Deadline to Register: September 30)
- October 4 - 7, 2023: NACADA Annual Conference, Orlando, FL (Deadline to Register: September 20)
- October 16 - 18, 2023: NCAN National Conference, Dallas, TX (Deadline to Register: September 29)
- November 1 - 3, 2023: ACL Annual Conference, Asheville, NC (Deadline to Register Early: September 15)
- November 4 - 7, 2023: AASCU Annual Conference, Chicago, IL (Deadline to Register Early: September 14)
- November 12 - 14, 2023: APLU Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA (Deadline to Register: September 30)
- November 15 - 18, 2023: ASHE Annual Conference, Minneapolis, MN (Deadline to Register: November 10)
- December 10 - 12, 2023: Complete College America Annual Convening, Las Vegas, NV (Deadline to Register: November 1)
Stuff We Love
A curated list of the latest and greatest things we’re using this summer to stay alert and get ready for the new school year ahead:
“There is some bureaucracy to running a university. We can't escape that. But by leading, you actually empower others to join you in transformation.”