What We Fund

Our overarching goal is to steer more low-income and other underrepresented students into these postsecondary opportunities, which can transform their lives and create strong communities. The recent Pew Research Center data on the rising cost of not going to college shows that college graduates working full-time earn about $17,500 more annually than employed young adults holding only a high school diploma.

Therefore, we support nonprofit organizations working in Mississippi around three core issues related to postsecondary training and education: access and entry, persistence and completion, and connection to family-sustaining work.

ACCESS AND ENTRY

We fund projects and programs that strengthen the pipeline between high school and postsecondary education by improving college advising, information on college options, and financial aid assistance.

PERSISTENCE AND COMPLETION

We fund efforts to increase completion rates including course completion, credit accumulation, supporting working students, transferring between institutions, and attainment of credentials with labor market relevance

CONNECTION TO FAMILY-SUSTAINING WORK

We fund initiatives that strengthen postsecondary alignment with workforce needs, build relationships with business and industry to align curricula to meet job demands, connect students with work skills, and provide learn-and-earn opportunities.

Our Approach

We are committed to engendering systems change—a restructuring of the way institutions, communities, and policies work in tandem—to achieve higher postsecondary completion rates by working in the following ways.

CHANGING AND ADAPTING SYSTEMS

We support approaches to align systems, so more Mississippians can access and complete postsecondary credentials, certificates, or degrees.

BALANCING URGENCY AND PATIENCE

We understand the breadth and severity of the barriers facing Mississippians as they attempt to access and complete postsecondary credentials, certificates, or degrees. While these barriers can be overcome, deep change takes time, which is why we are willing to take smart risks—and learn from those experiences.

BUILDING AND STRENGTHENING INSTITUTIONAL LEADERSHIP AND CAPACITY

Our investments prioritize getting more people to and through postsecondary institutions with a high-quality degrees or credentials. To that end, we focus investments and build partnerships with institutions and organizations that are involved in strengthening the pipelines to postsecondary education and training, as well as ensuring those organizations and institutions have the capability to remove barriers for students already in their systems.

ESTABLISHING AND BUILDING TRUSTING RELATIONSHIPS

We seek to work deeply within communities, engaging a wide array of partners in the development of our philanthropic strategies. We also strive to create opportunity where local leadership with traditionally underrepresented perspectives can share their experiences in order to enhance our learning and strategy.

MODELING DATA-DRIVEN DECISION MAKING

Our investments and grant-making strategies are informed by a mixture of research and practice that reveal qualitative and quantitative insights. The current body of evidence on effective policies and institutional practices for student access and completion must be more strongly woven into Mississippi’s secondary, two-year, and four-year systems.

ADVANCING A MULTI-PRONGED STRATEGY

We understand that, as a foundation, we have more resources than just money at our disposal. Consequently, we will not attempt to simply grant our way out of the problem faced by our state. Instead, we focus on strategically leveraging a host of non-financial resources—our social, moral, intellectual, and reputational capital, applied using the Traditions of Philanthropy—to ensure that more Mississippians are completing college credentials or degrees with family-supporting wages.

PRACTICING BETTER GOVERNANCE THROUGH TRANSPARENCY

We work to ensure that all relevant stakeholders—community members, educators, employers, funders, nonprofit partners, and institutional leaders—are aware of our current analysis, strategy, and future direction.