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43% of college students are first-gen, but only 34% of these students are graduating. How can more students earn degrees?

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Crimsonbridge invests in innovative practices, programs, and research that support learners pursuing associate and bachelor's degrees and preparing for meaningful careers. Critical services like advising, basic needs support, community connections, and career development are foundational to student success. With a strategic focus on high-impact, underinvested areas, philanthropy has a unique opportunity to partner with colleges, nonprofits, and high school networks to address the challenges of today's college students.  



This work is building the capacity of the higher education ecosystem to serve communities and shape generations, creating more learners who can earn a degree and thrive in their careers and in life. Through grantmaking and engagement with local and national partners, Crimsonbridge is focused on these strategic priorities:  

  1. Increase college completion, especially for first-generation students and learners underrepresented in higher education.  

  2. Identify and elevate innovations and research that provide solutions to barriers that today’s college students face.  

  3. Raise awareness of high-impact work, opportunities, and collaborations that support college success. 

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Local and national nonprofits have a long history of working with institutions of higher education and communities to support students through college milestones, improve services and pathways, and identify and build innovations. Crimsonbridge investments have supported:  


  • The College Completion Colleagues (C3) Initiative, launched with the Scheidel Foundation and Spark the Journey, College Success Foundation=DC, Generation Hope, New Futures, CollegeTracks, and Collegiate Directions.

  • Wellness Program expansion and the development of a professional development Learning Academy (Collegiate Directions).

  • FamilyU, a national training cohort of colleges working to advance parenting student success (Generation Hope).

  • Modernization of the scholar application process (New Futures).

  • Development of a national Basic Needs Data Dashboard for colleges to assess students’ basic needs and improve offerings (Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice)  


HIgh Schools

Across the nation, high school districts and networks are investing resources and staff time to support their high school alumni enrolled in colleges and universities. Crimsonbridge investments have supported:  


  • Development of a GradForce platform for alumni advising and services for graduates of 33+ Cristo Rey high schools.

  • Trauma-informed professional development series for counselors and mental health programming for KIPP high school alumni.

  • Expansion of a near-peer remote advising pilot for KIPP high school alumni in college  


High Schools

Community Collegs and Universities

Institutions of higher education shape communities and play a critical role in creating the infrastructure, support services, and partnerships for college success. Crimsonbridge investments have supported:  


  • Added communications capacity, advisory board engagement, and technical assistance to support first-generation student success in the Georgetown Scholars Program (Georgetown University).

  • Launch and development of the Take Flight program for first-generation college students and an Assistant Director (The Catholic University of America).

  • Development of materials and Navigator for English language programs (Prince George’s Community College).

  • Instructional coaches training and train-the-trainer series for the Achieving the Promise Academy, serving 12,000+ undergraduates (Montgomery College).

  • Development of National Community Vibrancy metrics and technical assistance for a pilot of 15 community colleges in the 300+ community college member network (Achieving the Dream)

Community Colleges 

& Universities


Institutions and organizations rely on research to advocate for and make data-informed decisions about improving student success. Crimsonbridge has invested in research to fill gaps in knowledge at both the state and national levels. Crimsonbridge investments have supported: 

  • Creation of The College Completion Gap: An Action Guide for Philanthropy in 2023 with recommendations for individual donors and foundations.

  • Fact sheets, issue brief, and higher education guidance on career outcomes for first-generation college graduates (NASPA’s Center for First-generation Student Success).

  • National findings and fact sheets on Latino college student retention and completion for all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia (Excelencia in Education).

  • Postsecondary outcomes report on HSIs in California, Latino Academic Transfer and Institutional Degree Opportunities (LATIDO) project (MDRC) 

Competitive Analysis identifies and eval





Local college students received tailored academic, mental health, and career support from 6 direct-service nonprofit partners


Local college students received wraparound support, campus and community connections, and access to emergency aid from two university partners


Of local college students served by College Success community partners are the first in their family to graduate from college