Latest News

  1. Fighting Racism and Dismantling Systems of Inequity: DEI Resources

    A Message of Solidarity from NPEA

    We are heartbroken and outraged by the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and the tragic deaths of so many other Black Americans that have occurred as a result of generations of systemic racism and police brutality in this country. Steppingstone and the National Partnership for Educational Access are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and today, we stand together to confront and oppose all forms of racism. We acknowledge that we still have work to do to deepen this commitment in every facet of our work, and we are prepared to listen, learn, and grow in the service of this mission.

    Our commitment to fighting racism and dismantling systems of inequity is constant, as is our dedication to fostering a diverse and inclusive community that honors the essential value of every individual.

    We have compiled a small selection of resources about racism, police brutality, and white privilege in America, as well as advocacy resources and information for how you can take action during this time. As always, to our members, please let us know if you have suggested resources or information you’d like to see us add to this page.

    To view these resources, please visit our DEI resources page.

  2. COVID-19 News & Resources

    We are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID-19. Those of us who support college and career access and success for underserved students are already seeing damaging consequences of this pandemic. Some NPEA members are concerned about students unable to access online learning because of our nation’s digital divide. Others are trying to figure out resources for families for whom “shelter in place” means unemployment for their households. Still others are concerned with ongoing fundraising efforts and what the future holds.

    As we all try to figure out how to operate in these unsettling times, NPEA’s message is clear: let’s work together. We know that programs and schools are stronger when we overcome challenges together, and that students will benefit the most when we are best-equipped to help them.

    A national education community focused on historically marginalized students has never been more important than now. NPEA is here to support you. In the coming weeks, NPEA will offer ongoing communication, resources, and virtual spaces for members and non-members alike to come together in partnership and share challenges, solutions, and struggles. As we transition into these services, we’ll ask for your patience and understanding that new technology and remote working may bring to the surface.

    Click here to visit our COVID-19 Information & Resources page.


    Dear NPEA Conference Registrants:

    We are saddened to share with you that the 12th annual NPEA Conference is cancelled. The health and safety of the NPEA community and all who we come in contact with is our biggest concern and top priority. This along with our commitment to following the local, state, and CDC’s guidance, including the Massachusetts Governor’s recent mandate banning all gatherings of more than 250 people through the end of April, means it is no longer possible.

    We know many of you are working around the clock to make equally difficult decisions in your day-to-day work as we all navigate next steps during this unprecedented time, and we stand in partnership with you.

    Financial Impact on NPEA:

    The NPEA conference is the largest source of revenue for NPEA and cancelling the conference has enormous financial implications for the health of NPEA. We hope that you might consider, if you are in a position to do so, donating your registration fee to NPEA.

    What Happens Next?

    Please complete this form. You will be asked to choose from one of the following options:

    • Request a full refund – 100% of your registration fees will be returned to you.*
    • Request a partial refund – we’ll ask you to specify the dollar amount/percentage you would like to be returned to you.
    • Defer your registration to the 2021 conference – you choose not to receive a refund this year in exchange for a free registration to the 2021 conference.
    • Donate 100% of your registration fees – in appreciation of this gesture, we will offer you 15% off of your registration fee for the 2021 Conference.

    *If you do elect for a full or partial refund, we ask for your patience. All refunds will be in the form of a check payment. We will make every attempt to process this as quickly as we can.

    NPEA Hotel Room Block:

    All hotel reservations made under the NPEA Conference room block will be cancelled directly by the Royal Sonesta Boston Hotel. You will receive a cancellation email from the hotel.

    Great News: 2021 Conference in Boston:

    We have negotiated a contract to hold the conference at the same hotel (Royal Sonesta Boston Hotel) in Cambridge next spring. We will be in touch to share the dates as soon as we have confirmed them.

    Moving Forward:

    Thank you for your generous support of NPEA as we continue to provide opportunities for partnership, and above all, continue to fulfill our mission to eliminate barriers for educational access and college and career success for underserved students. NPEA is only as strong as our membership, and we rely on that strength in moments of uncertainty for our work as a field. It is now more important than ever to reach out, rise up, and forge ahead together in support of all of our communities. We will be actively brainstorming ways to facilitate and provide virtual connections in our community as we navigate this unique and challenging time.



    Karin Elliott, Executive Director,

    Carrie Tate, Associate Director,

    Alex Newell, Member Services Associate,

  4. NEW: NPEA Keynote Spotlight Series!

    “One of the things I have come to realize is that not everyone is going to buy the social justice lens. Not everyone is going to buy the diversity lens. So you need to be able to think about who your audience is and what they care about.” – Angel B. Pérez

    Beginning today, NPEA is offering a three month spotlight series on our three conference keynotes: Angel B. Pérez, Marcia Chatelain, and Howard Stevenson. All three will be speaking at the 12th Annual Conference in Boston this April, and all three speakers are excited to interact with attendees outside of those three days as well.

    Our first feature is on Angel B. Pérez, and you can find it here on our website. In it, NPEA staff sit down with our first keynote to learn more about his time at Trinity, how he has gone about tackling some of the major problems in educational access, and his vision for future partnerships in the field. We will be releasing an interview with Marcia Chatelain in the coming weeks, and Howard C. Stevenson will be offering a workshop following his keynote at the conference. Register now to see these fantastic individuals in person, and reach out to Alex about how you can stay updated on future keynote spotlights.

    You can navigate to Angel’s spotlight (and other upcoming features) by using the menus above.


  5. Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities at Harvard for NPEA Members

    New On-Campus and Online Professional Development Opportunities with Special Discounts and Scholarships Available

    In a continuation of our learning alliance with Professional Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, NPEA is pleased to share some upcoming Professional Development opportunities from Professional Education. We feel this set of programs, online and in-person, addresses important topics and may be particularly relevant for our members. NPEA members will receive 20% off on-campus institutes, and scholarships are available for online programs.

    On-Campus Programs

    • Race, Equity, and Leadership in Schools | May 11 – 14, 2020 | Application Deadline: April 20, 2020
    • Post-Secondary Success: In Schools, Communities, and Families | June 22 – 25, 2020 | Application Deadline: May 25, 2020
    • Closing the Achievement Gap: Strategies for Excellence with Equity | June 27 – July 1, 2020 | Application Deadline: June 5, 2020

    Learn more about these programs and how to access your special tuition rate here.

    Online Programs

    Project Zero Online Courses are 13-week long, research-based courses grounded in day-to-day teaching and leadership practice. Educators form teams of 3-6 with colleagues from their organizations to participate. You will apply what you learn as you learn, receiving personalized feedback from a team coach and from fellow participants. Each course promotes active, team-based learning that supports collaboration and sharing in schools and districts.

    Scholarships are available for educators working in schools that serve 35% or more students in low-income families. Most scholarships cover between 50% and 80% of the tuition. You can learn more about scholarship opportunities here.

    Questions? Please contact Carrie Tate.

  6. Now Accepting Nominations: 2020 Award for Excellence in Educational Access!

    National Partnership for Educational Access and Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Announce Call for Nominations: 2020 Award for Excellence in Educational Access

    Learn more about the Award for Excellence, and submit your nomination today!

    BOSTON, MA – January 21, 2020 – The National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA) and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation are pleased to accept nominations for the 2020 NPEA/Cooke Foundation Award for Excellence in Educational Access.

    The Award, sponsored by the Cooke Foundation, will recognize an NPEA Member Organization, Program, or School with a $5,000 monetary award for excellence in supporting underserved students on the path to and through college and for demonstrating: effective practices in supporting underserved students; commitment to using data to inform and improve programming and practices; support for students’ personal growth and success; a commitment to sustainability and long-term success; leadership in the community; and creative problem-solving and innovation in meeting the needs of their constituents.

    In reflecting on this Award and the partnership that has helped make it possible, NPEA’s Executive Director, Karin Elliott, shared: “NPEA and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation are pleased to partner again this year to recognize and celebrate excellence in supporting underserved students on the path to and through college. The Cooke Foundation’s support and ongoing commitment to identify leaders and share best practices in the field of education access is greatly appreciated.”

    “All students deserve the opportunity to explore their talent and reach their highest potential,” said Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Executive Director Seppy Basili. “We are pleased to continue our collaboration with NPEA to help elevate organizations engaged in meaningful work to level the playing field for students.”

    The 2020 NPEA/Cooke Foundation Award winner will be announced at the national NPEA Conference, Reaching Out and Rising Up: Forging Ahead for Student Success, taking place on April 15-17, 2020 at the Royal Sonesta Boston Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information about the conference and the Award nominations process, and to apply or nominate an NPEA member, please visit:


    The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded over $200 million in scholarships to over 2,700 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive educational advising and other support services. The Foundation has also provided $110 million in grants to organizations that serve such students.

  7. National Partnership for Educational Access Names New Advisory Board Members



    Kate Wood
    Chief Advancement Officer
    617-423-6300 ext. 238

    National Partnership for Educational Access Names New Advisory Board Members

    Boston – January 13, 2020 – The National Partnership for Educational Access welcomes four new Board Members to the NPEA Advisory Board.

    The National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA) is proud to welcome four new members to its Advisory Board. These new Advisory Board members will greatly assist in moving the critical work of NPEA forward and will join our current board members in serving as ambassadors and champions for NPEA in its mission of connecting the people, practices, and innovations essential for eliminating barriers to educational access and college and career success for underserved students.

    • Rachael Flores, Director of Diversity and Multicultural Education, National Cathedral School
    • Olufemi Ogundele, Assistant Vice Chancellor & Director, Office of Undergraduate Admissions, University of California, Berkeley
    • Christopher Parris, Chief Program Officer, The Steppingstone Foundation
    • Lisa Reynolds Smoots, Director of Admission, Church Farm School

    “We are extremely fortunate to have these experienced and accomplished individuals join NPEA. They bring with them valuable skills and knowledge to help support the work of NPEA as we continue our efforts to ensure underserved students are on the path to and through college and beyond,” said NPEA Executive Director Karin Elliott.

    To learn more about all NPEA Advisory Board members, please visit our Staff and Advisory Board page.


    The National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA) is a membership organization that connects the people, practices, and innovations essential for eliminating barriers to educational access and college and career success for underserved students. NPEA is an initiative of The Steppingstone Foundation.


    The Steppingstone Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that develops and implements programs to prepare students from historically marginalized communities for college success. Each Scholar commits in fourth or fifth grade to the hard work necessary to earn their college degree. In return, we commit to supporting them every step of the way during the 12+ years they are with us. For more information, please visit:


  8. NPEA 2020 Conference Registration is NOW OPEN!

    Registration is now open! Early Bird rates have ended and regular rates are now in effect. Register today and join us in April.

    Featuring 40 workshops and spark session presentations, three keynotes, two receptions, and ample time for networking, this is a valuable opportunity for those in the field of education to come together and share best practices. Conference participants represent school and non-school based direct service programs, independent, public and charter schools, colleges and universities, education nonprofits, and others committed to access and success.

    Regular Rates:
    NPEA Member: $680
    Non-Member: $860

    Click here to register. Interested in becoming a member? Email Alex Newell (

    Reaching Out and Rising Up: Forging Ahead for Student Success
    The past two NPEA conferences have called attendees to stand together and raise our voices for underserved students in an increasingly challenging climate. We have looked to each other to elevate our work, empower students, and deepen our commitment to dismantling systems of inequity. While our collective efforts have undoubtedly strengthened the field of education, we find students across the country continue to face many of the same challenges.

    As we look ahead to 2020 and NPEA’s 12th annual conference, we ask attendees to reach out — to our students, to each other, to our communities — and to rise up together and persist in the pursuit of progress. As a community, we can transform the future of access, equity, and opportunity for the students we serve today and those we’ll serve tomorrow. Together, we will engage in thoughtful conversation and learning opportunities around issues of student well-being and mental health, intersectional identity, race and equity, diversity and inclusion, social justice, and more. We will look holistically at the student experience throughout the K-16+ journey, and envision how we can make changes that will help students not only access opportunity but move onward and upward to thrive on their unique educational journeys.

    Questions? Contact Carrie Tate (

  9. A New NPEA Member Spotlight On… the Fair Opportunity Project!

    Carole Trone, Director of Strategic Initiatives

    What’s on your desk at the moment?
    Building and launching a new pilot, the Checklist Program. This is a virtual, scaleable coaching model for motivated students that will walk them through the key steps of the college application and aid process. We hope to reach underserved students across the U.S. and especially in rural areas.

    What are your goals for this year?
    My main goal is to successfully launch the Checklist Program. This academic year, we will be testing its scalability and its effectiveness in increasing informed college and financial aid application completions for underserved students. The Checklist Program is free for students and so a related goal is to identify sustaining support through corporate sponsorships, grants, CBO or school support.

    What challenges do you or your organization/school face that you were hoping to address by joining NPEA?
    Our team is virtual and spread across the country. I’m looking forward to building out our network of knowledgeable and passionate college access professionals.

    What have you found most helpful since you joined?
    Alex Newell, the NPEA Member Services Associate, has been tremendously helpful!

    What’s one thing about your background that you’d like to share with the membership?
    I’ve benefited from every advantage that my family background has brought to me and it pains me to see how increasingly inequitable the college trajectory has become. I loved college and the college experience and want to bring that opportunity to as many others as I can.

    Describe your program or your work in one sentence.
    Fair Opportunity Project is a fairly new, nationally-focused nonprofit organization with a mission to empower students to access and afford college through freely available digital tools and resources. 

    What’s a hobby you use to relax outside of work?
    I like to bike and have done a few multi-day trips. Hoping to do more!

    What’s your favorite way to stay on top of news about educational access? (Podcasts, Books, the NPEA Twitter account, etc.)
    I’m a growing fan of podcasts: The Crush, EdSurge on Air, This Week in California Education, NASFAA’s Off the Cuff, Future U. I’m curious about the regular conversations around education, so awaiting the new Off Campus podcast and Gangster Capitalism. Twitter is an astonishingly useful news resource for educational access and policy research. I follow too many handles to list here! @JonBoeckenstedt is crusty and informative and entertaining.

    If you could be known as an expert in one topic related to educational access, what would it be?
    I have a PhD in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But what we most strive to do at FOP is look for the great, student-first resources out there and spread the news. I guess you could call that expertise in curating the most current and best resources.

    Is there anything you’d like to share with the rest of the membership?
    Our resources are freely available on our website and you can use and repurpose them for your programs and mentoring however you’d like!

  10. Don’t Miss These Upcoming NPEA Local Events!

    Register Now for these Regional Meetings

    Philadelphia – 10/28

    When: Monday, October 28, 8:30am-12:00pm 

    • Registration will open at 8:30am, with light breakfast items available until 9:00am.
    • The event agenda will run from 9:00am-12:00pm.

    Where: Community Partnership School, 3033 W Glenwood Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19121

    • View directions to CPS here.


    • NPEA Members: FREE
    • Non-Members: $15 per person

    The Event

    The National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA) and leaders from NPEA members Community Partnership School and the University of Pennsylvania Office of Undergraduate Admissions invite you to join Philadelphia-area college access advocates for a morning of networking, learning, and discussion focused on Using a Social Justice Framework to Guide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Work. The event will take place on Monday, October 28 from 8:30am-12:00pm at the Community Partnership School in Philadelphia.

    You will have an opportunity to engage with others working in the education access and equity space, share best practices in your work across program and school settings, and hear from guest speaker John L. Jackson, Jr., Ph.D., the Walter H. Annenberg Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Dr. Jackson was previously Dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice and Special Adviser to the Provost on Diversity at Penn. He is the author of Harlemworld: Doing Race and Class in Contemporary Black America (2001), Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness (2010), and more.


    Chicago, Boston, and New York Data Trainings

    When and Where: 

    • Boston, MA – November 13th at The Roxbury Latin School (9-2:30pm ET)
    • Chicago, IL – November 19th at Chicago Scholars (9-2:30pm ET)
    • New York, NY – December 4th at the Boys Club of New York, Harriman Clubhouse (9-2pm ET)


    • NPEA Members: $15 per person
    • Non-Members: $25 per person

    The Event

    This fall, the National Partnership for Educational Access (NPEA) will hold a series of Data Trainings in Boston, Chicago, and New York City.

    Our Chicago training will take place on Tuesday, November 19 from 9:00am-2:30pm at the Chicago Scholars Community Leadership Resource Center in downtown Chicago. This hands-on training will be an opportunity to join other education access programs, schools, and funders to discuss data analysis through an equity lens, grapple with a mock data set in small groups, engage in thoughtful discussion around strategies and best practices for using data to inform and improve program practices, and leave with helpful tips and tools.

    We are excited to come together to discuss best practices for collecting, analyzing, using data, and working together to identify opportunities for using data to tell a story and improve program impact.

    Registration has not yet opened, but save the dates, and reach out to Alex if you’re interested in attending!