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Partners for Postsecondary Success


MDC’s Partners for Postsecondary Success (PPS) initiative built community partnerships that work to significantly raise the number of low-income young adults completing postsecondary credentials and finding living-wage work. Initially funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2010, the initiative’s communities are continuing to build a collective approach to problem-solving and develop concrete action plans for improving postsecondary completion rates for low-income young adults.

Through site visits and shared learning events, MDC helped communities identify and implement evidence-based strategies to address inequities in education and employment. The three cities selected to participate in the program launch—Brownsville and Amarillo, Texas, and Raleigh, N.C.—received $1.4 million over three years in planning and implementation funding along with customized coaching and shared learning support. Each partnership includes representatives from education, business, community–based organizations, workforce and/or economic development agencies, municipal government, and local funders. Partnerships also actively involve local students. The three communities continue their work and are in various stages of planning and implementing next stage work, including further development of the partnerships themselves and deepening and broadening success strategies for low-income young adults.

An external evaluation conducted over the first three years of the initiative by Equal Measure (formerly the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning) shows that PPS sites matured in both partnership capacity and in policy and practice aimed at improving postsecondary completion rates. Read more about the grant period results here. PPS sites also have successfully leveraged the initial investment of the Gates Foundation into millions in additional support from local, regional, and national investors, including successful bids for foundation and government grants.

  • $3.4 million in additional funds raised and 12 new positions funded to sustain No Limits No Excuses efforts through December 2015
  • 500 Neighborhood Navigators helped 400 low-income students and families work toward postsecondary education; in 2014, for the first time ever, all Caprock High School graduating seniors applied to the colleges of their choice with support from their College and Career Center
  • 95% of ACE Scholars persisted to second year of college with the help of Amarillo College’s No Limits Coaches; 3800 ACE Scholars have achieved nearly 20,000 semester credit hours through dual enrollment

Amarillo Lead Partner: Amarillo Area Foundation
Contact: Lori Bigham, Partnership Coordinator,

  • 99.5% of Brownsville high schools seniors applied for college in 2014, up from 58% in 2012
  • A corps of All In Student Ambassadors work with their local high schools, middle schools and elementary schools alma maters to counsel engage students and parents on the importance of postsecondary getting a good education as the pathway to good jobs; over 1200 high school students participate in the program each year and receive credit for doing so.
  • Algebra I pass rates rose from 66% to 79% between 2010 and 2012 for Brownsville Independent School District students

Brownsville Lead Partner: United Way of Southern Cameron County
Contact: Wendy Hanson, Community Impact Director,

  • Over 250 youth participated in workshops on financial aid and college admissions in forums with current college students
  • Nearly 70 trained coaches work with over 300 youth and young adults on academic and social success

Raleigh Lead Partner: North Carolina State University
Contact: Jose Picart: Executive Director, Raleigh Colleges and Community Collaborative,

Go Deeper:

For more information on MDC and Partners for Postsecondary Success, contact: Kate Mitchell.