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Season 2, Episode 3 - Making and Keeping a College Promise

Transcript | Duration: 23:18

About This Episode:

College Promise programs are not new in higher education. But they have gained momentum in recent years with the rise of “free college” initiatives across the country. They took rise out of the need to increase a workforce to meet the labor-needs of a community and have evolved in addressing access and equity. Given the variety of models that exist and the thousands of students who have participated in these programs, the question is: What does it mean for a campus to make a promise and what has that promise meant for students and their communities?

This episode features Martha Kanter, Executive Director for the College Promise Campaign, Edward Smith, Program Officer with The Kresge Foundation, and Kate Mahar, Dean of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives at Shasta College. They share their research findings, innovative practices and recommendations on leveraging College Promise Programs to support student success.


Featured On This Episode:

Dr. Martha J. Kanter is Executive Director of the College Promise Campaign and Senior Fellow at the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy at New York University. The Campaign is dedicated to the mission of ensuring college opportunity by supporting the development and expansion of College Promise programs in communities and states throughout the country. Dr. Kanter joined the College Promise Campaign after nearly five years as the U.S. Under Secretary of Education, a position to which she was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009. Prior to this, she was president of De Anza College and then chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District in Silicon Valley, California. She began her career as an alternati​ve high school teacher in Lexington, MA.

Dr. Edward Smith is a program officer with The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program. Dr. Smith advances the foundation’s goals of expanding opportunities in cities across the country through grantmaking and social investments. He joined Kresge in 2019 after 10 years in education policy research, working to understand how city leaders develop and advance education attainment initiatives rooted in a city’s assets and suited to the needs of its people. Previously, he held positions at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, National Association for Student Affairs Professionals (NASPA) Research and Policy Institute and the Institute for Higher Education Policy. He is co-editor of the recent book Improving Research-Based Knowledge of College Promise Programs published by American Educational Research Association.  

Dr. Kate Mahar is Dean of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives at Shasta College. She currently leads the Lumina Talent Hub grant and works closely with North State Together, a five county-based collective impact effort to enhance postsecondary attainment in far northern California. Dr. Mahar has held leadership roles in K-12, community colleges and the UC system and understands the importance of helping students and families navigate between educational sectors. Dr. Mahar has more than 20 years of experience in education focusing on improving the educational pipeline for underrepresented students and communities.

Denise Palomera is a resident of the Long Beach, California and attend schools in Long Beach Unified School District. She participated in the Long Beach College Promise​ and was the first person in her family to go to college.  She applied and attended California State University Long Beach. She held an on-campus job as a College Advisor for University Outreach and School Relations and graduated from California State University Long Beach in Spring 2020.


Resources for This Episode: