Catholic Colleges Take the Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge

In summer 2016, the White House took a stride forward in removing barriers to participation in society for individuals returning from prison or returning citizens by launching the Fair Chance Pledge. Meant for businesses and institutions of higher education, the pledge commits signatories to committing to reducing barriers to a second chance at societal participation, to acting on this commitment in their local communities, and being an example for peer institutions and businesses.

Among institutions of higher education, taking the Pledge means “adopting fair chance admissions practices like going ‘Beyond the Box‘” by reconsidering whether questions related to criminal history are necessary for admissions applications. Additionally, the Pledge symbolizes a commitment to continue “supporting professors or students who want to teach or are teaching in correctional facilities and ensuring internships and job training are available to individuals with criminal records.”

ACCU member institutions Ancilla College, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University have taken the Pledge. We look forward to hearing about the advances these and other schools have made towards removing barriers for returning citizens.

Learn more about the Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge here.

Catholic Institutions Commit to Action on College Opportunity

The Obama administration’s efforts to increase college opportunity has enticed the White House to ask colleges and universities to commit to helping more students enroll in and graduate from college. Several of our ACCU members have responded to the White House’s Commitment to Action on College Opportunity by pledging efforts in quite a few categories of commitment:

  • Completion Commitments 
    • Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities – Committed to producing an additional 11,500 graduates by 2020, the association will launch their project, “Stopping the Leak in the Educational Pipeline: Improving Matriculation and Graduation Rates at Franciscan Colleges and Universities.” With the help from this project, AFCU member institutions will join together and work closely with student success experts to develop systems, processes, and training to improve retention and graduation rates for all students, with a focus on at-risk students.
    • Loyola University Chicago – Loyola University Chicago has teamed up with Arrupe College in applying several strategies to help low-income, under-prepared and under-served students gain access to, succeed and graduate from a 4-year college or university. Together, they have commit to a total of 2,275 additional graduates by 2025.
    • St. Francis College – The Post–Prison College Opportunity Program at St. Francis College will promote civil rights by challenging the long-term consequences of mass incarceration by giving the formerly incarcerated the opportunity to earn a college degree. In addition, the program will provide tuition for accepted students through a combination of financial aid and scholarships.
  • K-16 Partnership Commitment
    • Trinity Washington University – In partnership with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), Trinity Washington University commits to improving college readiness, retention and completion for DCPS students who enroll at Trinity. The partnership will emphasize persistence and success for DCPS graduates who wish to pursue majors that require strong math preparation and that are associated with high-wage/high-demand careers, as well as engage key D.C. college access providers in implementing persistence strategies.
  • STEM Commitment
    • Barry University – With the hopes of improving the retention and completion rates of low-income students, underrepresented minorities, and women in STEM majors, BU is working to develop a holistic engagement program designed to provide the outreach and opportunity structures that “fill the gap” for students who lack the pre-college academic preparation and developmental and personal experiences necessary for academic and professional success. As a Hispanic-serving institution whose 4-year graduation rate for the 2009 cohort was 45 percent, the university aims to increase that graduation rate by 10-15 percent by 2018 through interventions designed to foster community building, strong peer and faculty relationships, and a sense of academic self-efficacy.
    • Saint Martin’s University – In order to boost admittance and retention of women, low-income students, and underrepresented minority students in STEM degrees by between 5 and 10 percent, Saint Martin’s University will be launching a series of initiatives. Currently, the university is planning a series of monthly workshops for fifth through eighth graders, in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Club, designed to increase STEM admittance. Also, to increase retention, the university’s biology program is restructuring degree requirements, moving toward a core concept and competency model that includes an increase in active learning models and student research experience.
    • Trinity Washington University – With a strong track record of educating low income women of color in the Washington region, Trinity’s STEM initiative will include best practices such as cohort organization, special academic and co-curricular advising, and focused foundational courses taught by specialists who can provide individualized support. The university commits to increasing their STEM enrollments by 50 percent annually, improving their graduation rates for STEM majors from 35 percent to no less than 65 percent (with a reach goal of 75 percent) and seeking to improve first-to-second year retention from the current rate of 61 percent to no less than 80 percent for STEM cohorts, in order to meet the overall graduation rate goals.
  • Counseling Commitment
    • Loyola University Maryland – The School Counseling Program (SCP) at Loyola University Maryland is planning a four-prong approach to support increasing college and career readiness among urban youth in Baltimore City and the surrounding counties. The components of the university’s four-pronged approach include providing direct counseling services to un-served and under-served youth in urban schools to enhance their vocational identity, program rigor, and college readiness; and expanding the research of counseling faculty regarding vocational identity.