Latest News

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. A New NPEA Member Spotlight on… Elon Academy!

    John Pickett, M. Ed, Assistant Director of Scholar Support

    What’s on your desk at the moment?
    I always seem to have a bottle of water and a diet coke on standby!  Additionally, I have a few plants and group photos of many of the cohorts of students I have worked with. Our program is in the beginning of “recruitment season” for our next cohort of high school students and I just received our first four applications in the mail yesterday. They are sitting on my desk and I am excited to read them and begin to get to know these students!

    What are your goals for this year?
    Each year the Elon Academy seems to hit a new record of success with our high school students (all low-income and/or first generation) in terms of academic success, admission success, and scholarship success. My hope is that we continue this. Our scholars raise the bar each year!

    What challenges do you or your organization/school face that you were hoping to address by joining NPEA?
    We are always looking for the best practices and most innovative ways to support our most marginalized students.

    What have you found most helpful since you joined?
    The NPEA conference is fantastic! I have found it incredibly useful in terms of everything from networking, to resources, to new ideas, to motivation!

    What’s one thing about your background that you’d like to share with the membership?
    At this point in my career I have worked with every level of student, from K-5 to middle school to high school and college.  Each time I circle back to work with a group of students from one of these demographics, my time spent with each helps to better inform my approach. I think, for example, it’s valuable for organizations to realize how powerful it can be to bring in someone to work with kindergarten students who has worked with older students, and vice versa. It’s been surprising and so useful.

    Describe your program or your work in one sentence.
    Elon Academy is a comprehensive college access non-profit helping low-income/first generation students access and succeed in college by providing support, resources, and information.

    What’s a hobby you use to relax outside of work?
    I’m an avid reader. Ever since I read my first full book on my own as a kid I’ve always had a book to read. Recently I read “Educated” by Tara Westover and “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean. I highly recommend both for anyone in NPEA.

    What’s your favorite way to stay on top of news about educational access? (Podcasts, Books, the NPEA Twitter account, etc.)
    I think I stay most on top of this by making a point to engage with colleagues about current issues. This may be in person at the “water cooler” or on social media or at professional meetings.

    If you could be known as an expert in one topic related to educational access, what would it be?
    I’d like to be known as an expert in providing the most developmentally appropriate resources to support underrepresented students to college all the way from birth to college graduation. I’m very proud of the professional toolbox I have cultivated on this subject.

  4. Workshop and Spark Session Proposals Deadline Extended: 10/10

    Reaching Out and Rising Up: Forging Ahead for Student Success

    Apply to Present at the 12th Annual NPEA Conference, April 15-17, 2020, in Boston, MA!

    We invite you to submit a Workshop or Spark Session proposal for NPEA’s 12th annual conference, taking place on April 15-17, 2020 in Boston, MA. Over 100 professionals support the work of NPEA each year by presenting at the national conference, and more than 400 conference attendees gather from across the nation to share best practices and learn from each other.

    Presenting at the NPEA conference is a great way to:

    • Support and engage in active learning with attendees
    • Share your ideas and expertise with a diverse audience on a national platform
    • Enrich your own professional growth
    • Stand together with a group of like-minded educators committed to improving outcomes for underserved students and dismantling systems of inequity
    • Reach out and rise up in support of students

    Submission Instructions

    1. Review a PDF of the Workshop and Spark Session Proposal Application
    2. Review the Workshops Cheat Sheet for suggested topics, presenter FAQs, and presenter expectations prior to submitting your application
    3. Review the NEW Spark Session Cheat Sheet for an overview of this year’s new session type, as well as suggested topics and presenter FAQs.
    4. Apply Now through the online application form

    Deadline for Submissions: Thursday, October 10, 2019

    Additional Information

    The NPEA conference offers sessions on a range of topics addressing the needs and interests of our diverse audience. We encourage proposals that focus on best practices, lessons learned, and current research on supporting underserved students, while remaining relevant to the conference theme of reaching out — to our students, to each other, and to our communities — and rising up together in pursuit of progress.

    This year, we are accepting proposals for Workshop Sessions (75 minutes each) and Spark Sessions (7-10 minute presentations, part of a 60 minute block) to take place on Thursday, April 16 and Friday, April 17.

    We invite you to view our 2019 Conference Program for examples of past workshop sessions.

    Reduced Conference Registration Rates
    Learn more about NPEA and how to become a member. NPEA members and presenters receive reduced registration rates for the NPEA conference.

    Please contact Karin Elliott, Executive Director of NPEA.

  5. A New NPEA Member Spotlight on… The University of Arkansas College Access Initiative!

    College Access Initiative Pipeline Program Coordinator:

    What’s on your desk at the moment?
    ACT vouchers and admission tickets, a half-drunk cup of coffee, notes from a recent NPEA/MEFA webinar: “After the College Acceptance.”

    What are your goals for this year?
    The class of 2020 will be this pilot program’s first graduating class, and I’m very eager to start the participants’ college, FAFSA and scholarship applications so they can go to college next fall. The goal is 100% enrollment!

    What challenges do you or your organization/school face that you were hoping to address by joining NPEA?
    NPEA membership is helping me to look at approaches that are different from the TRiO model that are also wonderful and effective.

    What have you found most helpful since you joined?
    The NPEA conference in Chicago put me in a room with very devoted, passionate people who inspired me to keep doing my best every day.

    What’s one thing about your background that you’d like to share with the membership?
    The assistant vice chancellor, my director and I all worked for TRiO programs in the past, so our programs are largely modeled after the Upward Bound and Talent Search approaches.

    Describe your program or your work in one sentence.
    The UA College Access Initiative Pipeline is a grant-funded college readiness program for three cohorts of 10-12th grade underrepresented college-hopefuls in the Northwest Arkansas region.

    What’s a hobby you use to relax outside of work?
    Yin yoga

    What’s your favorite way to stay on top of news about educational access? (Podcasts, Books, the NPEA Twitter account, etc.)
    The NPEA newsletter and webinars are great! You make it so easy.

    Is there anything you’d like to share with the rest of the membership that you don’t feel was captured in this form? If so, include it below.
    The College Access Initiative Pipeline is housed within the University of Arkansas’ Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education.

  6. Announcing the 2020 Annual Conference Keynotes: Marcia Chatelain, Angel Pérez, and Howard Stevenson!

    We are thrilled to share our keynotes for Reaching Out and Rising Up: Forging Ahead for Student Success, the 12th Annual NPEA Conference in Boston, MA (April 15-17, 2020)!

    Pictured left to right:

    Marcia Chatelain, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor, Georgetown Universityand Author, South Side Girls: Growing Up in the Great Migration (2015) and Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America (coming 2020)

    Angel PérezVice President for Enrollment and Student Success, Trinity College

    Howard C. StevensonProfessor, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania; Executive Director, Racial Empowerment Collaborative; and Director, Forward Promise

    Learn more about the 2020 NPEA Keynotes.

  7. Introducing a new NPEA Conference offering: Spark Sessions!

    This year, in addition to our traditional workshop sessions, we are seeking individuals interested in presenting an innovative idea, a unique challenge, or an inspiring story that speaks to this year’s theme of reaching out, rising up, and forging ahead for student success.

    Every Spark Session will feature 3 presenters, with each session centered around a related theme. Individual presenters will speak for 7-10 minutes in turn, followed by 15-20 minutes of group discussion facilitated by a session monitor.

    Presenters are encouraged to share an innovative idea, challenge, or question with the group that will inspire discussion. Interested presenters should submit a proposal for a 7-10 minute slot within a Spark Session (deadline: Friday, September 27).

    An Innovative Idea: Some of the obstacles in the field of educational access have remained unchanged, and in many cases have heightened in the current climate. Spark Sessions are the perfect stage for showcasing solutions that you have found that break new ground or remove some of these obstacles.

    A Unique Challenge: Not all problems have solutions – yet. What questions or ideas are you grappling with where you could use the perspective of others navigating this space? Spark Sessions allow conference attendees a platform to share some of the struggles they have encountered in their work and solicit ideas from others in the field.

    An Inspiring Story: Sometimes, all it can take to start a great discussion is a great story. Is there a time where you or your organization were inspired by a student or a colleague? A Spark Session is a great place to share one of these stories, either to motivate others or prompt discussions about the field of educational access.

    Spark Session presentations will be scripted, rehearsed 7-10 minute remarks that may or may not use accompanying visuals. With limited time, this presentation style is an opportunity to dive immediately into your remarks, foregoing context and background to get right to the heart of your idea, challenge, or story.


    There is no need to seek partners for your Spark Session – NPEA will group presenters thematically based on the proposals received, at which point you will be assigned to the first, second, or third slot in your session. Presentations will be timed and cut off at 10 minutes, with a facilitated “sit and think” minute between each, and moderated discussion with guided questions will follow after all three presentations have taken place.

  8. Read About the 2019 NPEA Conference!

    Missed the 2019 NPEA Conference? Don’t worry – NPEA was fortunate to have Luke Chitwood (Twitter, website) in attendance, who provided a wonderful write-up. See his article here, or read it below!

    Engineered for Inequality: Calls from an Access Conference for Reimagining Higher Education in America

  9. Congratulations to the 2019 Award for Excellence Winner: Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA)

    Congratulations to the 2019 Winner:
    Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA)

    Photo of Award winner


    The Award recognizes an NPEA member who has demonstrated excellence in supporting underserved students on the path to and through college through effective practices, a commitment to data for program improvement, support for students’ personal growth and success, strong program sustainability, leadership in the community, and creative problem-solving and innovation.


    Pictured (left to right): Alan Royal (Jack Kent Cooke Foundation), Jahnelle McMillan (LEDA), and Nada Abdelaziz (LEDA). Photo credit: Heather Hackney Photography


    “LEDA is so honored to be the recipient of NPEA’s Award for Excellence. Being recognized among this network of exemplary organizations is a testimony to the tremendous accomplishments of our LEDA Scholars, and the vital importance of building an inclusive and equitable America where leadership reflects, celebrates, and supports diverse perspectives.”
    Beth Breger, Executive Director


    Congratulations from NPEA and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation!

    Interested in learning more? View the press release for more information, or visit our conference page.

  10. See Dr. Donnell Butler’s Keynote Presentation!

    Change The Game: Dismantling Systems of Inequity and Reimagining College Student Success

    Donnell J. Butler
    Senior Associate Dean for Planning and Analysis of Student Outcomes


    Dr. Donnell Butler (Franklin & Marshall) delivered a great keynote performance last Thursday, discussing systems of inequity and looking hard at how we define student success in college. Dr. Butler graciously allowed us to post his handout from the keynote so that attendees can go back and have a look at his slides – a goldmine of information, research, and analysis. Access his presentation here. Thank you, Dr. Butler!


    Other workshops that have been added:

    Did you present at the NPEA Conference and want your presentation added? Email Alex and ask him to help you out!