Postsecondary Success

At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we believe that every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life. In the United States, this means expanding life-changing opportunities, including—and especially—education.

Getting an education after high school is critical in today’s economy. Virtually all of the jobs created in recent years require at least some postsecondary education. At the same time, the likelihood of accessing and completing that education depends on a person’s race or income. It shouldn’t, and we are working to change that. 

An Education Beyond High School

Our work is guided by the belief that:

  • Students are at the center of what we do.

  • Educational opportunity should not depend on race and income.

  • Colleges and universities are the unit of change when it comes to boosting student success and closing success gaps.

  • Networks are critical for institutions and the organizations that support them to accelerate learning and student-centered change.

  • Evidence is essential for guiding improvement in student outcomes. 

We support colleges and universities committed to transformation—making significant and lasting change to dramatically improve student  

outcomes and eliminate race and income as predictors of student success. For us, transformation includes having a student-centered mission, setting goals and being accountable to make decisions, creating a collaborative environment, and making a commitment to continuous improvement.

We do this by investing in the development of tools and resources to guide transformation efforts; supporting networks to connect institutions with these resources and with each other to accelerate learning; and advocating for public policy focusing on the needs of today’s students and the colleges and universities serving them. 

Our Latest News & Insights

Postsecondary Success Grantees

We invest in partners big and small, for- and not-for-profit, from all parts of the country to tackle the opportunities and challenges of institutional transformation.

Frontier Set
Postsecondary Data Collaborative (PostsecData)
Every Learner Everywhere
Strong Start to Finish
Advising Success Network
Third Way

Postsecondary Success Focus Areas

We and our partners work with colleges and universities to transform themselves so that more students—especially first-generation students, those from low-income backgrounds, students of color, and working adults—can achieve their educational goals.

Navigating the path to a certificate or degree can be challenging and costly. We are working with leading colleges and universities to implement innovations that help students identify and get on a path to a certificate or degree, stay on that path, and ensure that they are learning along the way. Within this area, we focus on three key initiatives: digital teaching and learning, developmental education, and student support.
Our work with colleges and universities and the organizations supporting them focuses on transformation: building capacity to dramatically improve student outcomes and eliminate racial and income gaps. We engage directly with a diverse group of institutions and intermediaries in generating tools and resources that support transformation efforts. Together, we also support the creation of networks that can connect institutions with these resources and with each other to accelerate learning.
Data and Information
Our goal is a comprehensive data strategy that ensures efficient, consistent, and transparent collection and reporting of key performance metrics that will enable students, institutional leaders, and policymakers to make informed decisions about the value of different postsecondary pathways.
Federal and state policies affect who colleges and universities serve and how they serve them. For example, up to two million low-income students don’t apply for federal aid every year because the process for applying is too complicated. Many state aid programs leave out part-time and adult students. And federal and state data systems leave out critical student outcomes whose outcomes matter.

U.S. Program Resource Center

Browse our collection of educational resources covering topics we care most about from our partners and initiatives.

Discover Our P-16 Framework

Our P-16 Framework explores how, when, and why students gain and lose momentum across their educational journey—from pre-kindergarten through college and beyond.