Nellie Mae Education Foundation Unveils New Strategy

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Invests $200 Million into Ambitious Goal for Universal College and Career Readiness

QUINCY, MA – October 21, 2015 – Graduating from high school is an important milestone but the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (Nellie Mae), the largest philanthropic organization in New England focused exclusively on education, believes it’s not enough to ensure the future success of our children.

The Foundation has set into motion a plan that aims to reshape public education to reach an aggressive benchmark: at least 80% college and career readiness for every subgroup and New England as a whole by 2030. Over the next five years, Nellie Mae will increase its capacity and rapidly accelerate its work to meet this ambitious goal. The Foundation is investing $200 million dollars, a 60% increase above its current policy allowances, to dramatically improve educational results for New England’s learners and communities.

By 2018, 63% of all jobs will require some level of postsecondary education and training. According to data from the New England Secondary School Consortium, although more students are graduating from high school, only 50% of those graduates have the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed after high school, while the other half are not fully ready for college-level work. Furthermore, only 32% of low-income students are graduating high school ready for college or career.

“While we may be graduating more students, it’s clear that graduation does not mean our students are adequately prepared for what must come next - success in some form of post- secondary education,” said Nick Donohue, president and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. “Like an old building, the public education system needs a 21st- century upgrade so that all learners have access to post-secondary education and career success. The good news is that there is a path forward which includes the spread of student-centered learning and the remodeling of our public education system to support the  delivery of these practices.”

Nellie Mae believes that achieving universal college and career readiness is possible through the adoption and implementation of student-centered learning in classrooms and curriculums. In student-centered environments, learning is personalized, competency- based, takes place anytime, anywhere, and students take ownership over their learning. In the next five years Nellie Mae is focused on growing public awareness and demand around student-centered learning; increasing the tools and resources available to educators and school systems and building a research base of evidence supporting student-centered learning through evaluations of student-centered practices.

“Not everyone who arrives on a college or university campus or into the workforce is adequately prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. In order for them to be fully engaged and to give them every chance to succeed, we need to do more to ensure they are prepared,” said David S. Wolk, Board Chair of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and President of Castleton University. “The demands graduates will face as part of our country’s workforce are constantly changing, and so too should our education systems to ensure that younger generations can thrive amidst those challenges.”

For more information on The Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s Theory of Change, please visit Leading the Way toward a More Prosperous, Equitable New England by 2030 (

For more information on student-centered approaches to education and how they contribute to college and career readiness, please visit

About the Nellie Mae Education Foundation:
The Nellie Mae Education Foundation is the largest philanthropic organization in New England that focuses exclusively on education. The Foundation supports the promotion and integration of student-centered approaches to learning at the middle and high school levels across New England—where learning is personalized; learning is competency-based; learning takes place anytime, anywhere; and students exert ownership over their own learning. To elevate student-centered approaches, the Foundation utilizes a four-part strategy that focuses on: building educator ownership, understanding and capacity; advancing quality and rigor of SCL practices; developing effective systems designs; and building public understanding and demand. Since 1998, the Foundation has distributed over $180 million in grants.



Jennifer McAlpine
Solomon McCown & Co.


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