The Hope Center

#RealCollege Policy & Advocacy

Our higher education systems and safety net policies have failed to evolve with the students they are meant to serve. That is why, in the coming years, we will work to modernize the safety net to improve basic need security and contribute to a reimagined vision of higher education that better supports access and attainment.

The Hope Center is dedicated to changing the policies and systems that harm student success. We know that education beyond high school is essential to students and America’s economic recovery and long-term success. But our nation’s current higher education and safety net systems do not address the new economics of college. For these reasons, we advocate on the federal and state levels for improved access to basic needs support programs and more affordable and accessible education after high school.

We are committed to dismantling the historically racist policies that serve as barriers to postsecondary education for underrepresented and minoritized groups: people of color, low-income, parenting, working, first-generation, and immigrant students. We have decades of disproportionate outcomes for people of color that demonstrate how policies that appear neutral on their face produce inequitable results.

To improve equitable outcomes, we address “racial and poverty deservingness” narratives informed by data-driven solutions to produce policy solutions, including:
  • An explicit focus on equity. Federal and state resources must target underserved communities. We also inform policies to ensure asset-based language and call out racially coded political language that perpetuates systemic racism. 
  • Accountability. We believe that policies and programs should be held accountable for outcomes using data to track their progress. We advocate for changes to policies that fail to achieve equitable results.
  • Data-driven solutions. Our policy solutions are data-driven. We enter conversations with the evidence to support our proposals, including the Hope Center’s research on student basic needs insecurity.
  • Collaboration. We believe that collaboration and partnership are the bedrock of successful policy change. The Hope Center is committed to being a trusted partner that listens and adapts as part of our commitment to continuous improvement.

It is time for a radical reimagining. The stark racial and wealth inequalities call for far more than technocratic tweaks to our policies. It is time to build a new approach to higher education that embraces the students we have the honor to serve rather than the students we think or wish we had. Creating a robust ecosystem of social policies blended and braided with higher education policies will help secure students’ basic needs, reflect the changing demographics of today’s students, and promote college attainment.

To read our federal policy agenda for 2021, click here.

Recent Statements

#RealCollege Statement on Build Back Better Proposal

October 29th, 2021 This statement should be attributed to Sara Goldrick-Rab and Mark Huelsman Yesterday, the Biden Administration and Congressional leaders released a framework agreement on budget reconciliation legislation. We believe this to be a crucial opportunity to modernize our…

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Statement from Hope Center President & Founder Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab: Congratulations to #RealCollege™ Champion and Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal

Download the pdf. September 14, 2021 This week, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate wisely confirmed James Kvaal for the role of Under Secretary of Education, and not a moment too soon. James is a highly-qualified leader who has…

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Statement from The Hope Center: Protect #RealCollege™ Students from Eviction

Download the pdf. August 30, 2021 On August 26, 2021, the US. Supreme Court overturned an eviction moratorium designed to protect families in counties with rising COVID-19 caseloads. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling, millions of Americans are…

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Hope Center Public Comment: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through USDA Programs

July 15, 2021 In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requested public comments on how it can advance racial justice & equity for underserved communities as part of its implementation of Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support…

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Statement from Hope Center President & Founder Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab: The Time to Prioritize #RealCollege™ Students Is Now

Download the pdf. June 23, 2021 This is the moment we have all been waiting for, especially #RealCollege™ students—past, present, and future. College should not create poverty, and no one should have to skip meals to get an education. The…

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