Sharing Hope in California Higher Education

It has been a heartbreaking and frustrating time as our country continues its battle with COVID-19 and its reckoning with long-standing structures of racial oppression. But what has given me hope over the summer is watching so many joyous students and their families cross the virtual graduation stage to start or culminate their college journeys. To all of you I say, CONGRATULATIONS!!!
One of those virtual high school graduates was my daughter Alexandra. It certainly was not the ending to her senior year that she or the entire Class of 2020 deserved. Still, I hosted a socially distanced car parade, where our friends and family drove by our house with balloons and celebratory signs to congratulate her. And after agonizing over whether she would head across the country and what college might look like in the midst of a global health pandemic, I am proud she chose to enroll in one of California’s best community colleges this fall.
There has been more good news that gives me hope, including the University of California welcoming its first Black president , Michael V. Drake. Drake has a remarkable record of being unabashed in supporting college access, completion, and racial equity, and we look forward to working with him.

Like many of you, we were also pleased to learn that the UC admitted the most diverse class for fall 2020, with Latinx students as the largest group of prospective freshmen . While the UC still has a way to go to reach equitable representation of Latinx and Black students and leadership across UC campuses, this is the right type of trend!
This year is also the 10 th Anniversary of the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT). In 2010, alongside many of you, we championed legislation creating the ADT, a streamlined transfer pathway that ensures students can earn an associate degree with guaranteed junior standing at a California State University (CSU). Since then, the California Community Colleges have awarded over  217,000 ADTs!!!  That is enough degrees to fill the Rose Bowl our state’s largest stadium) more than two times over. You can read more about the impact of the Associate Degree for Transfer and its ability to increase college opportunity while saving costs below. 

While the current economic, health, and political realities can get all of us down, there is much work we can do together to meet this moment and protect the futures of generations to come. I encourage you to be a part of the change we all want to see and need. Read below about how you can take action.

Michele Siqueiros
Latest Research
10 Years After Historic Transfer Reform: How far have we come and where do we need to go?

Our latest fact sheet, 10 Years After Historic Transfer Reform: How far have we come and where do we need to go? , highlights implementation of the ADT over the last decade and the promise it holds to be an efficient way for students to transfer, saving the state and students money and time, both critical assets during this economic recession. The ADT has reduced excess credits for ADT earners (compared to traditional associate degree earners) by an average of about six units for a cost savings of over $12 million in 2018-19 alone.
ADT earners, however, still earn 30 credits more than the 60-credit degree requirement. If a reduction by six units can save $12 million in just one year, a reduction of 30 can save significantly more in costs. That’s why our community colleges and CSU must get serious now about making the ADT the preferred transfer pathway. Read more .
In Case You Missed It - New Left Out Research
Last month, we released Left Out: California’s Higher Education Governing Boards Do Not Reflect the Racial and Gender Diversity of California and its Student Body , which finds that that Black, Latinx, Asian American, and Native American Californians are not well represented in higher education governing bodies. These bodies make critical decisions in everything from admissions, tuition, and the selection of campus presidents. When they do not reflect the lived experiences of their students, they perpetuate discriminatory sentiments about who belongs in college and in leadership positions. We call upon Governor Newsom to make future appointments in higher education that match his verbal commitment to representation and diversity. Read more .
Big Gains In Transfer-Level Course Completion
Our partners at the California Acceleration Project (CAP) recently released a newsletter detailing dramatic gains in completion of transfer-level English and math at the California Community Colleges thanks to policy changes that allow students to bypass harmful remedial education courses. At colleges that strongly implement these policy changes, CAP finds that racial equity gaps are narrowing, particularly for Black and Latinx students, who are now completing transfer-level coursework at higher rates. Read more .
Ballot Measures to Increase College Opportunity
This November, Californians have the opportunity to vote on ballot initiatives that reinvest in our students and schools and end a legacy of legal discrimination in contracting, hiring and university admissions that has left too many talented Black, Latinx, Native American and Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Californians behind.
Vote YES on Proposition 15: Schools
and Communities First

Proposition 15 creates an estimated $12 billion annually for California’s students and communities by taxing commercial and industrial properties and closing corporate tax loopholes. This additional revenue will be vital for sustaining underfunded schools and community college districts, especially amidst a global crisis. Now is the time to put our schools and communities first. Learn more and Vote Yes on Proposition 15 .
Vote YES on Proposition 16

Our higher education system does not reflect the racial/ethnic or gender diversity of California in its student body, faculty, staff, and leadership, hurting our students and the state economy. Proposition 16 will allow colleges and universities to consider race as a factor in contracting, hiring and admissions. The University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges all support Proposition 16, as it will help them better serve our state’s diverse population. L earn more and Vote Yes on Proposition 16 .
Federal Action Needed!
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly reduced California’s higher education budget, and our public higher education systems face trigger cuts of nearly $1 billion . With a looming recession, we must preserve college opportunity, as our college graduates are set to best weather this economic storm. We urge the federal government to step up and provide emergency aid so that California’s colleges and universities are not forced to balance their budgets on the backs of California students. 
Thank You to Our Funders
Our work to protect and expand college opportunity for the last sixteen years would not be possible without the generosity of our funders. We are grateful to The Angell Foundation, The Ballmer Group, and The James Irvine Foundation for their commitment to success for our students and our state.