UWM, MATC join project to foster equity in transfer

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Milwaukee Area Technical College are partnering in the Equity Transfer Initiative, a new effort to increase transfer rates for Black, Hispanic, adult and first-generation learners. The initiative is jointly led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the American Association of Community Colleges, and the American Association of State Colleges and includes 16 partnerships nationwide.

Sponsored by ECMC Foundation and Ascendium Education Group, the initiative is awarding up to $27,500 to support partnerships between community and four-year colleges to align transfer pathways to increase transfer and completion for underrepresented student populations. Each of the 16 teams must place at least 100 students on one of five identified transfer pathways by the end of the first year and 300 or more total by the end of the second year. ETI aims to serve 6,000 students from the identified underrepresented groups over the two-year project period.

“Making transfer easier for all students is a critical part of our ongoing work to improve access to higher education and helping students graduate on time,” said Dave Clark, vice provost for student success at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “MATC is already one of our largest transfer partners, but there is always more we can do to improve the process for our students. We are excited for the opportunity to learn from experts as part of this initiative.”

UWM and MATC are longstanding partners, working together on initiatives including M3, the Higher Education Regional Alliance and the new Moon Shot for Equity.

“Both MATC and UWM are committed to equity and success for all students — and transfers are central to our effort,” said Naydeen Gonzalez-De Jesus, MATC’s executive vice president for student success. “Nearly 2,000 MATC students transferred to four-year institutions last year, and UWM was the most popular destination. Making this transfer more seamless with a focus on equity will help more students achieve their career goals and create a more diverse pipeline of leaders in our community.”

Participating colleges and universities will receive transfer coaching support to advance work plans that include:

  • An assessment of the current and/or newly proposed relationship between the partnering two-year and four-year institutions to identify obstacles and develop response strategies that lead to a strong transfer relationship.
  • A review of current and/or new transfer pathways through an equity lens, specifically identifying evidence-based equity strategies or new innovative equity strategies that allow students to matriculate without losing credit and time to degree.

“We know transferring remains a barrier for African American and Latinx students as well as adult and first-generation learners,” said Christel Perkins, deputy executive director of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and assistant vice president at APLU. “Stronger partnerships between community colleges and universities are essential to tearing down this barrier so more students can finish their studies with a degree in hand.”

Partnerships/consortia will also have access to technical assistance provided by subject matter experts, participate in convenings to teach and learn from each other, and inform the development of train-the-trainer tools that colleges interested in strengthening their transfer pathways can use. Additionally, participants will focus on strengthening student support services and ensuring that students receive culturally competent counseling.

Sixteen partnerships from 13 states representing 17 community colleges and 19 universities were selected to participate. The other APLU institutions participating in the effort are University of California, Davis; Cleveland State University; University of Colorado Denver; George Mason University; University of Massachusetts Lowell; Oklahoma State University; Texas State University; and Wayne State University. Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, a member of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, is also participating.

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