The Pell Institute publishes research and analyses that address equal educational opportunity, particularly the outcomes for low-income, first-generation, and disabled students. Additional publications include occasional papers, policy briefs, and an electronic newsletter.

Travelers EDGE — A Model on the Cutting Edge of Corporate College Access and Success Support (.pdf)

More and more businesses, large and small, have embraced postsecondary education as a strategic focus of their corporate, social or citizenship responsibility initiatives. The strategic efforts of major corporations to increase college access and success through diversifying the American workforce could be a major boon to achieving President Obama’s 2020 goal for the United States to once again have the largest percentage of college- educated citizens in the world. The Pell Institute’s research has shown that in order to reach the President’s national degree attainment goal, the country needs an increase from 41.2 percent to nearly 60 percent of those aged 25 to 64 with a college degree. However, our concern is that at the current pace, projections using the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey suggest that only 46.4 percent of Americans in the target age group will have earned a college degree by 2020, leaving the nation nearly 24 million degrees shy of the 60 percent target rate. The nation needs an “all hands on deck” approach if we are going to be able to make any progress in closing the degree attainment gap toward the President’s 2020 goal. Programs such as Travelers EDGE are welcome players in helping to achieve the nation’s overall goals to increase college access and success among its citizens.

It is intuitive for businesses and corporations to be worried about the nation’s economic competitiveness in the globalized marketplace. To help close this income-based degree attainment gap, models of college access and success programs continue to emerge among the corporate sector. For years, many corporations have established internship and/or scholarship programs to help students attend college by providing some financial support as well as practical work experience, so they can succeed in college then re-populate the workforce and stimulate the economy. However, little is still known about how American businesses are making the strategic connection between stimulating and maintaining the economy through programmatic efforts to support the nation’s education reform movement. In order to ascertain the viability and scalability of corporate college access and success support initiatives, a close study is needed of their program mission and goals, the structuring of their practices, the implementation of their activities, the utilization of their resources (including their financial and human capital), and finally their process for measuring, evaluating and reporting the outcomes of their efforts to impact postsecondary education. The Pell Institute embarked upon this study of Travelers EDGE precisely to conduct a close assessment of their corporate college access and success program and to get some answers to these concerns. Ultimately, our goal is to contribute to a small yet growing and needed body of literature on effective practices that rely on private funding to increase low-income, first-generation student success.