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Level the Playing Field
in Higher Education

In today’s economy, people with a bachelor’s degree are more likely to find higher-paying jobs, better health, and a better quality of life, compared to those with a high school or associate degree. But in California and nationwide, Black, Latino, and Native American students and those from low-income families are much less likely than their peers to attain a four-year degree.  

We are working with partners to create a more streamlined, affordable, debt-free path to (and through) college for students who for too long have been denied an equal shot at an undergraduate education.

The Current Landscape

Research commissioned by the Haas Jr. Fund at the end of 2023 affirms the benefits of earning a bachelor’s degree, as well as the persistent disparities for Black, Latino, and Native American students when it comes to college access and degree completion in California. The research also shows how students in California have access to a variety of supports to help them find a high-quality, low-cost higher education.

Despite the range of academic and social support programs that are available, however, students are not getting the support they need to complete their degrees. Too many Black, Latino, Native American, and low-income students are not transferring to four-year institutions from community colleges and completing their undergraduate studies.

How We’ll Get There

Support Students to Find a High-Quality, Low-Cost College Degree

We are working with partners to tackle barriers that prevent students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students in California from attaining a bachelor’s degree. Our primary focus: ensuring an affordable and easy-to-navigate pathway to a degree for more students. 

Together, we can make higher education more accessible and more affordable for more students—so they and their families can realize the lifelong benefits. Here are three priorities we’re focusing on:

  • Advancing policies and programs that expand access to financial aid and that help students and families understand what is available to them.

  • Streamlining and improving the transfer process from California Community Colleges to four-year institutions where students can obtain a bachelor’s degree.

  • Scaling innovative programs and systems that help students navigate the enrollment and transfer processes and persist to degree completion.

Program Staff

How We’ll Get There

Sharing What We’re Learning

At the Haas, Jr. Fund, we’re working with partners to help show why it’s important to ensure that more underrepresented students obtain a bachelor’s degree, and how to make it happen.

Research: We’re compiling data and research on the value of college, disparities in access, and pathways to an affordable bachelor's degree.

View Research

Messages: We’re exploring the most effective messages and strategies to expand awareness among students and families about affordable pathways to a bachelor’s degree, and to advance better policies that will benefit underrepresented students.  

Learn More

Perspectives: We’re sharing insights from our staff and partners on how to expand access to a bachelor’s degree, and where there’s progress.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Nelson Mandela