College Access & Success System Study: Philadelphia and Miami

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Publication Date
Miami, Philadelphia


College attainment in the United States is widely recognized as a critical aspect of workforce development and economic success. Recently, leaders in education have promoted systemic approaches for increasing college attainment, recognizing the power of coordination throughout the K-16 education pipeline. In 2007, Knight Foundation commissioned a study to:

· Better understand the college-going patterns of students and the system of college access and success (CAS) supports in Miami and Philadelphia.

· Identify opportunities for strengthening each system to better support college attainment.


Key Questions
· What does the ideal college access and success system look like and how do the systems in Miami and Philadelphia compare?
· What do the college access and success student patterns look like in each community?
· What are the opportunities for strengthening the college access and success system in each city?

Assessment Partner: OMG Center for Collaborative Learning.


• Strengthening the System – The report identified best practices for successful college access and success systems including developing a citywide college-going culture, providing widespread outreach to students, promoting direct college enrollment and enhancing resources at the college level.

• College Pipeline – Philadelphia student data suggested dramatic dropout rates throughout the pipeline, with only 10% of entering 9th grade students expected to graduate college within 10 years, compared to the national average of 20%. . Despite repeated efforts, the project could not obtain the corresponding data for students from the Miami School District.

• Opportunities for Improvement

o Philadelphia: The report recommended taking actions including institutionalizing the efforts of the Mayor’s Council for College and Career Success, emphasizing direct enrollment in college in the fall following high school graduation, investing in programs that bridge college-going supports from K-12 and higher education (accountability systems, curriculum, and supportive services), and targeting a broader population for support.

o Miami: The report identified a “moment of opportunity” to advance the college access and success system in Miami, stemming from recent interest demonstrated by funders and program providers focused on college access and success (e.g., the Posse Foundation and College Summit). A holistic set of college access and success supports could be piloted by the city through a “feeder system” set of schools.

About our Communities focus area

We invest in civic innovators who help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of engagement.

About our Field research methodology

Field research is primary and secondary research done for Knight Foundation.