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. This is being achieved through the development and documentation of a series of national conferences. Some of the goals of this project include:
May 16-17, 2011
Higher Education Access
The National Forum has launched a series of focused conversations, which have been organized by local institutions paired with influential national partners. We have promoted this series of meetings by providing modest seed money and organizational support. We have focused on three important determinants for change:
1. Legislation and policy at the state and federal levels which support higher education inclusion for immigrants and undocumented students.
2. Institutional practices, especially at higher education’s boundary functions (admissions, financial aid, communications, leadership) that promote access and graduation.
3. Awareness, understanding and commitment to education as a public benefit and building public will to support access through investment and policy. The history of progress that has expanded participation in U.S. higher education makes it clear that change must occur in all of these areas if nominal access is to be sustained in new patterns of genuine opportunity.
The National Strategy Summit in Washington, DC on April 26-28, 2010
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.
Since 2007, the conversation has expanded to other strategic regions of the country through a network of institutions in California, New 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.