Press Release

WASHINGTON (March 10, 2016) — Less than one percent. That’s the amount by which the college graduation rate gap between White and underrepresented minority students (URMs) closed in the last decade. Among students who begin at four-year institutions, six-year graduation rates for white students are more than 20 points greater than for African American students and 11 points greater than for Latino students.

To help shrink these egregious gaps and ensure that more URM students earn a bachelor’s degree, The Education Trust today launched OASIS, Optimizing Academic Success and Institutional Strategy, an initiative that mobilizes 11 regional, comprehensive institutions that serve large populations of URMs to collectively achieve their shared goal of improving graduation rates.

“A college degree is the surest path to upward mobility. Yet only half of Latino and black students who start college with the intent to earn a bachelor’s do so within six years,” said Bonita J. Brown, former vice chancellor and chief of staff at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and current Ed Trust director of higher education practice. “To help more students achieve their educational dreams, colleges must transform their practices to better serve their students. The OASIS institutions are tackling that challenge head on.”

The OASIS network will enable senior university leaders to work together to analyze each college’s data, share insights with each other and expand the use of evidence-based practices on their campuses. This network comprises four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), six Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and one urban research institution serving a large number of minorities.

The OASIS participating institutions are:

  • California State University, Fresno (HSI)
  • California State University, Fullerton (HSI)
  • Florida A&M University (HBCU)
  • Florida International University (HSI)
  • Morgan State University (HBCU)
  • North Carolina A&T State University (HBCU)
  • North Carolina Central University (HBCU)
  • Queens College, City University of New York (HSI)
  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (HSI)
  • University of Houston (HSI)
  • University of Memphis


The network is convened by Ed Trust, with support from Lumina Foundation. It is chaired by Dr. Mildred García, president of California State University, Fullerton.

OASIS institutions will come together multiple times to explore best practices in student success in such areas as data analysis, student advising and developmental math interventions. And, over time, they’ll share their experiences and lessons learned with a wider range of institutions.

“We’re honored to work alongside these leading institutions in their efforts to improve retention and graduation rates and to share what we have learned with other colleges and universities across the country,” said José Luis Santos, Ed Trust vice president of higher education policy and practice. “We know that institutions that prioritize student success do better. Period. And those that focus particular energy on underrepresented groups of students do better by them.”


The Education Trust is a nonprofit advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels, pre-kindergarten through college. Its goal is to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement that consign far too many young people — especially those from low-income families or who are black, Latino or American Indian — to lives on the margins of the American mainstream.