NF Convening

In cooperation with colleagues from around the country and with support of several national foundations, the National Forum has been working to nurture awareness and understanding within the higher education community, among advocacy groups, and among policymakers on the connections between immigration policy and access to higher education. The goal of achieving collective impact in relation to a contentious, national issue depends on one or more organizations serving as the nerve center and hub of activity. For over five years, the National Forum has been accepted in that role, and has consistently expanded and diversified a network capable of impact at several different levels of institutional influence. The National Forum’s core distinguishing feature is its experience as a convener of public and professional dialogue, using it as a mechanism to build public understanding and political will towards transformational change in higher education.

In 2000-2005 we played a key role in organizing a series of efforts to convene higher education leaders and policy makers around the public service responsibilities of colleges and universities.  We have partnered with minority-serving institutions on several leadership initiatives, and have consulted on education policy in several states, including driving a change agenda within the state of Michigan. In our convening strategy, we use the research and strategies developed by Daniel Yankelovich, and have partnered in the past with Frameworks, Public Agenda and the Kettering Foundation on efforts to build public will in support of educational issues.

As a research and action center affiliated with a major research university, we have the ability to bring together leading scholars, higher education executives, foundation partners, policy makers and advocates, and to do so within a framework that posits shared values and stresses the importance of evidence-based solutions to the challenges faced by higher education and society.

Some of the goals for our more recent convenings include:

    • Bringing together, for active engagement, a myriad of culturally diverse professionals from across the United States, thus sparking a professional movement of concern and action;
    • Developing action steps through a collaborative effort;
    • Advancing the discussion on how to increase the level of participation of immigrants in postsecondary education, and;
    • Increasing participant awareness of opportunities available to support immigrant students in higher education.


Below is a sampling of our convenings over the past few years:




October 2013 - “The Graduates/Los Graduados”

The National Forum partnered with several organizations on the campus of the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and the city of Detroit, to offer in-person screening and dialogue events dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of academic diversity issues, and the challenges Latin@ students face across the United States. In addition to serving as a national engagement partner, the National Forum also advised on the Youth Action Guide and Discussion Guide that was distributed in concert with the film. Click here for more information about the documentary.

May 2013 - “Open Access: Integrating Students in America’s Community Colleges”

In partnership with the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

April 4, 2013 - Federal Policy Implications for Higher Education Professionals in Broadening Access for Undocumented Students” webinar

In partnership with National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

Click here to view the archived webinar



RPE 3 PanelOctober-December 2011 - “Reinventing Public Education: Higher Education”

Presented by the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good
and the University of Michigan Alumni Association
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Click here to read about this series of discussions

May 16-17, 2011 - Higher Education Access

Lumina Foundation
Indianapolis, IN

Click here to read more about this convening

March 23, 2011 - Challenges and Opportunities
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Click here to download materials from the convening and view pictures from the event



April 26-28, 2010 - The National Strategy Summit 

Washington, DC. At the summit, we began coordinating a strategy that will unfold over approximately 18 months—a time in which it will be important to maintain progress in efforts to link immigration and educational opportunity. This summit is being held in cooperation with a “Call to Action,” one of several special events funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, through KFLA, to mobilize action on key national and international themes, leveraging a network of leadership fellows across the United States and around the world.

In planning this event, we acknowledged the impact that results from the lack of comprehensive institutional policies, practices, and public regarding educational access for immigrant students. We also observed that, while policy change will be needed to ensure full participation for immigrants and undocumented students, we have opportunities to act even as we pursue any legislative goals held by individuals in the group. To marshal this agency we:

1. Convened a national panel of key stakeholders to identify issues and institutional policies that currently impact educational access for immigrant students.

2. Met with representatives of the White House, national organizations, and key national higher education associations.

3. Fostered increased public understanding of the importance of a policy agenda that addresses higher education policies as they relate to immigrant students.

4. Leveraged the credibility, influence, and support of higher education institutions, national associations, foundations, and policy leaders to lay the groundwork for a long-term, multi-interest collaboration with the        ultimate goal of advocating for appropriate institutional, state, and national policy change.

5. Created the meaningful connections between educational leaders and policy leaders that this issue has desperately needed.

6. Contributed to a national effort to encourage institutional innovation and practices to protect the principle of access and college completion.

7. Built a communication strategy that extends and unites the emerging coalitions arising from this initiative so they can act effectively in the midst of changing political circumstances.



In December of 2009 the National Forum brought Juan Sepúlveda, Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans to the University of Michigan in support of reform of the intersection of immigration and higher education access.

NF - Convening



Since 2007, the conversation has expanded to other strategic regions of the country through a network of institutions in CaliforniaNew Mexico, and future conferences to be hosted in Texas and Nevada. Following the goals of this project, these conferences are aimed at strengthening the knowledge base among educators about the intersecting issues of immigration and educational access, and on setting policies regarding educational access with institutions and across the states.



The first conference in this national series, Challenges and Opportunities: Conversations about Immigration and Higher Education, took place in June of 2007 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Following the National Forum’s Dialogic Model of Change approach, more than 140 participants engaged in three days of information sharing, dialogue, and planning with the goal to reframing and intersecting the conversation on immigration and educational access.