NAICU, Council of Independent Colleges Launch College Access, Success Initiative

February 13, 2010

February 12, 2010                                                                                                                                 CONTACTS: 
NAICU - Roland King,, 202-739-0475 (office), 202-380-8172 (cell)
CIC - Laura Wilcox,, 202-466-7230 (office)

NAICU and Council of Independent Colleges
Launch Major College Access, Success Initiative

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 12 - The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) have announced a new effort, Building Blocks to 2020, that will highlight and support the efforts of private colleges and universities to raise college enrollment and graduation rates. The project was unveiled to the NAICU membership during its annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Building Blocks to 2020 has two primary objectives. First, it gathers and communicates information on the considerable efforts in place or being planned by private colleges and universities to expand college-going, to increase graduation rates in areas of national need, and to enroll and support at-risk students, giving them the tools and skills they need to succeed in college. Second, the project disseminates successful practices so that private institutions can redouble their efforts to further increase college access and success.

"Our institutions want to be on record as endorsing and contributing to President Obama's 2020 goals," said NAICU president David L. Warren. "If you want to move the needle on college retention and completion, the wholehearted participation of America's private colleges and universities is essential."

Across all colleges and universities, only 24 percent of first-generation students succeed in earning a bachelor's degree, compared with 68 percent of students with parents holding a bachelor's degree. At private colleges, the completion rate for first-generation students is 61 percent.

"President Obama's intent to increase the college-going and college graduation rate is a worthy goal," said CIC president Richard Ekman. "Statistics already document the success of independent colleges and universities in retention and graduation. Our institutions will now build on that existing record as partners in reaching the President's goal."

A number of specific activities are already in place and others planned as Building Blocks to 2020 gets underway:

  • Survey of Effective Access/Success Programs Already in Place: An extensive array of programs for college access and success are already in place at private colleges nationally. However, there is no easy and comprehensive way to share information on these programs. Since late 2009, NAICU has been conducting an ongoing survey to identify innovative and successful efforts as a resource to other institutions.
  • Expanding Proven Programs: CIC has already secured more than $5 million in grants from the Walmart Foundation for 50 institutions to expand exemplary success programs for first-generation college students. For its part, NAICU will continue to advocate for a federally-funded competition open to all colleges, under the administration's proposed student loan reform bill, to expand successful initiatives.
  • Marking Progress: All private colleges will be encouraged to participate in the national effort by identifying goals appropriate to their missions. Institutions' progress toward those goals will then be periodically summarized in milepost reports that will look at success in producing more college graduates; increasing graduation or retention rates; increasing success with at-risk students, and/or increasing graduates in areas of national need.
  • Sharing Access/Success Programs: The milepost reports, as well as examples of particularly noteworthy existing initiatives, will be shared via a Building Blocks to 2020 Web site and through use of social media, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Included will be interactive tools allowing mentors from institutions with established programs to guide others in developing their own success programs.

The on-line survey gathering access/success activities from participating colleges will remain open indefinitely. Examples and reports will be posted at

About the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU)

NAICU is the premier advocacy association for the nation's private colleges and universities, with a membership of more than 1,000 private colleges and related associations. Member institutions include major research universities, church-related colleges, historically black colleges, traditional liberal arts and science institutions, women's colleges, two-year colleges, and schools of law, medicine, engineering, business, and other professions. Nationally, over three million students attend private colleges and universities. For more information, visit

About the Council of Independent Colleges and Universities (CIC)

The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) is an association of more than 600 independent, liberal arts colleges and universities and higher education affiliates and organizations that work together to strengthen college and university leadership, sustain high-quality education, and enhance private higher education's contributions to society. To fulfill this mission, CIC provides its members with skills, tools, and knowledge that address aspects of leadership, financial management and performance, academic quality, and institutional visibility. For more information, visit


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