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

Statement from Hope Center President & Founder Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab in Support of California’s AB 1456:

The Cal Grant Equity Framework This statement should be attributed to Sara Goldrick-Rab and Carrie R. Welton. Download the pdf. June 8, 2021 California policy experts, higher education leaders, students, and equity advocates, have worked tirelessly for more than a…

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#RealCollege Statement on U.S. Department of Education Guidance Regarding Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III

This statement should be attributed to Sara Goldrick-Rab and Carrie R. Welton. Download the pdf. May 12, 2021 Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released new guidance regarding the third round of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF III)…

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#RealCollege Statement on President Biden’s American Families Plan

This statement should be attributed to Sara Goldrick-Rab and Carrie R. Welton. Download the pdf April 29, 2021 This week, President Biden introduced the American Families Plan (AFP). This proposal clearly demonstrates the Biden Administration’s commitment to invest in workers,…

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#RealCollege Statement on President Biden’s FY22 Budget Blueprint

This statement should be attributed to Sara Goldrick-Rab and Carrie R. Welton. Download the pdf April 21, 2021 President Biden’s fiscal year 2022 discretionary budget request, released April 9th, demonstrates a continued commitment to #RealCollege students and families. The Hope…

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#RealCollege Statement on the American Rescue Plan Act

President Biden recently signed into law the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act  an economic relief package that provides much-needed support for students, families, and institutions of higher education. The bill provides nearly $40 billion for colleges and universities, including over…

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