Header student success project

A Message from the Project Manager, January 2021

Achieving College Attainment and Success Goals Through a Shared Vision and Collaborative Efforts

The work on our Student Success project continues. On October 1 and 6 we held Statewide Virtual Convenings with leaders from partner organizations and members of NYSACAC with the goal of generating several action items. 

The group discussions were framed by reports of collaborative efforts from EdTrust-NY regarding the adoption of a state goal for postsecondary success and from United Way-NYC regarding a statement on equity in educational opportunities in New York.  Marissa Guijarro reported on her late-September testimony to the State’s legislature regarding current and near-future needs of our students. Finally, a summary of our summer’s Virtual Conversations was provided.

I want to thank all our participants who took time out of their busy schedules to contribute to this dialogue.  Special thanks to Stephanie Espina, Jane Mathias, Marie Nocella, and Genevieve Price-Griffin for recording and reporting on the deliberations of the discussion groups that generated the action items.


Convening Information

For those interested, these documents can be found at the following links:

As with the work generated earlier by our series of Virtual Conversations, any questions and/or additional insights you wish to offer are welcome.  Please contact me at [email protected]

Where do we go from here?

In the coming weeks, NYSACAC’s leadership will discuss the Convenings action items and the myriad recommendations found in the Conversations report.  The goal is to arrive at a list of immediate and near-future impactful activities, along with a production schedule that optimizes available resources. As an example, we will discern how best to utilize this information to strengthen and, possibly, broaden our legislative advocacy activities for the coming year.

Once we make this list public, we will be seeking volunteers from NYSACAC’s membership to assist in putting these into action.  We will have a number of these activities in the works by the end of March and, at the same time, the next set of plans in place for implementation.

I look forward to our continued work together and, as always, am privileged to have this opportunity to collaborate with you.

Best wishes,

Kurt M. Thiede
Project Manager


A Message from the Project Manager, July 2020

Good day!

As we head into August, we are reminded of what this month has been like in past years.  The return of fall sports teams on both college and high school campuses. Preparations for new student orientation to prepare incoming classes for their new secondary and higher ed experiences. College advising staffs making final plans for a fall of research, campus visits, and generating applications. College admissions staff putting the final touches to a calendar comprising outreach, on-campus hosting, and application review.

And yet, the evolving pandemic situation – in our own communities and nationwide – brings with it a high level of uncertainty and varying degrees of angst.  Within these very dynamic circumstances we have adjusted our approach to this Student Success Project – supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – to meet the goals of this undertaking. 

Along with our efforts to meet NYSACAC’s specific project goals, we continue to the contribute to the work of other Gates collaborators, most especially Ed Trust NY’s REACH NY initiative and United Way NYC. The final products of our project will support and complement the work of these others.

Throughout the past months I have been very impressed by the creativity, energy, commitment, and empathy of the members of NYSACAC. In my work with many of you I’ve gained a strong understanding why the decision-makers at Gates wanted the Association to be part of this project.

I look forward to our continued work together in the weeks ahead.  Please feel free to contact me at any time.

Kurt Thiede
Project Manager, NYSACAC Student Success Project
[email protected]



Table of Contents

A. Advocacy Strategy - Virtual Convenings


I.  Project Deliverables:

A. An Advocacy Strategy – NYSACAC members will contribute to a statewide effort to establish NYS goals for college attainment and student success. These goals will inform our future efforts with state and federal legislators and contribute to institutional conversations about programs positively impacting access to higher education and student success.

To contribute to this outcome, NYSACAC will host two Virtual Convenings in mid-September.  During these sessions, we will focus on how stronger transfer pathways and strategies can contribute to meeting these goals.  Along with identifying ways to best coordinate each organization’s respective advocacy agendas, we seek to establish local, regional, and statewide partnerships that support transfer student success.

See the Virtual Convenings section below for additional information.

B. Six Transfer Case Studies – These Case Studies will focus on policies and practices that inhibit a student’s ability to transfer from one institution to another. These will highlight the fine points of the transfer process that can be addressed – by both institutional practice and state policy – to both encourage and support transfer. (These Case Studies will be masked.)

C. Best (and Transferrable) Transfer Practices – A dynamic document that celebrates the work being done at the pre-college and college levels to encourage and support transfer student success.

D. Have You Thought of… - This active document will provide a venue for innovative thoughts that are in the early development stage.  This virtual “project sandbox” will encourage dialogue about creative ways to best take advantage of the opportunities in the post-pandemic environment.

II.  Virtual Conversations: Executive Summary and Final Report

Between April 28 and June 25, twenty-four Virtual Conversations were held. The number of professionals who participated in at least one of the sessions totaled 298. Along with NYSACAC members, participants included colleagues from NYSSCA and NYSTAA.

The eight-week series addressed the following topics:

  • Week 1 - Overview of NYSACAC's Student Success Project
  • Week 2 - Emerging COVID-19 Issues
  • Week 3 - Financial Literacy and the Transfer Student
  • Week 4 - Transfer Credits - Supporting Academic Progress
  • Week 5 - The Transfer Admissions Process
  • Week 6 - Transfer Student Transition Issues
  • Week 7 - Non-Traditional Transfer Students
  • Week 8 - 2+2 Transfer Partnerships

While each transfer-related discussion revolved around the weekly theme, the natural interconnectivity of these specific issues was very much part of each session's outcomes. In light of this, in the coming weeks the final report of the Virtual Conversation series will be presented within the following framing questions common to all transfer students:

  • Will I gain admission to my target transfer institution?
  • What academic credits will transfer in and how long will it take to complete my degree?
  • How much will it cost to complete my degree?
  • Will I fit into my new campus community?

Along with observations and findings, the report includes a set of recommendations and a list of resources.

III.  Virtual Convenings

In light of our inability to travel to hold these sessions on-site, NYSACAC will host two Virtual Convenings with the following theme:

"Achieving College Attainment and Success Goals Through a Shared Vision and Collaborative Efforts"


Focused on the statewide college attainment goal that is emerging from the myriad conversations taking place among various Gates collaborators, the goals of these Virtual Convenings are to identify items for policy and legislative advocacy agendas, establish working partnerships, and create actionable steps to collaboratively achieve the yet-to-be finalized statewide attainment goal, with an emphasis on transfer pathways and strategies.


Along with NYSACAC representatives, the following organizations will be invited to participate:

  • CICU
  • AACC
  • EdTrust-NY
  • Goddard Riverside Community Center
  • Young Invincibles
  • #DegreesNYC
  • Hispanic Federation
  • National Urban League (Buffalo, Long Island, NYC)
  • United Way NYC

Preliminary Format for Virtual Convenings:

  1. Welcome
  2. Keynote
  3. Presentation of high-level findings and observations of NYSACAC's Virtual Conversation series
  4. Presentation of high-level findings and recommendations by other Gates collaborator on college attainment goals.
    - Response to college attainment goals by representatives of key cohort groups: CBO, secondary school counselors, community college transfer advising staff, four-year college admissions staff.
         1. How can each of these groups contribute to the attainment of these goals?
         2. What resources are needed for these goals to be realized?
         3. What issues should be added to advocacy agendas?
    - General Discussion on these three questions
  5. Break-out Session
    - Using the input from the earlier sessions, each break-out group will generate a list of:
         1. Action Steps articulating the roles, listing where additional resources might be necessary, and suggesting a realistic           timeline
         2. Legislative Advocacy agenda items which can be added to each cohort's advocacy agenda
  6. Wrap-up Session - Reports from each Break-out Session
  7. Adjournment