Press Release

How Colleges Can Drive Social Mobility for Students of Color and Students from Low-Income Families

WASHINGTON – The TIAA Institute and The Education Trust will host a fast-paced, interactive event focused on social mobility, race, and higher education.


The college admissions scandal, changes in the use of college entrance exams, and reports on college and university funding disparities have shined a national spotlight on higher education. Research continues to demonstrate that while a college degree is critical for accessing the middle class, higher education access and success remain a challenge often defined along the lines of race, ethnicity, and income.

Congress is considering how to rewrite the Higher Education Act, and 2020 presidential candidates are staking out their higher education policy platforms. Educational equity is an issue that continues to require sustained focus and action to more positively affect future outcomes.

Researchers, students, college presidents, and national leaders will talk about how colleges and universities can serve as engines of upward social mobility for students of color and students from low-income families. And they will call for federal policies to better enable colleges to fulfill their social mobility role. The event will combine short talks, big ideas, and breakout discussions, and the keynote will feature John B. King Jr., President and CEO of The Education Trust, in conversation with Anthony Jack, author of The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students.

What: Convening of researchers, students, college presidents, and national leaders


Event start, 9:00 a.m.

Research talks, 9:10 to 9:45 a.m.

Student panel, 9:45 to 10:30 a.m.

  • Sancia Celestin, George Mason University | President, F1rst Gen Mason
  • Joseline Garcia, President, United States Student Association
  • Sufyan Hameed, CUNY | Director of Expansion, Integrate NYC
  • Brandon Nivens, U.S. Navy veteran
  • Grace Pang, San Jose State University | Board Member, Cal State Student Association

College president talks, 10:45 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Keynote conversation, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

  • John B. King Jr., President and CEO, The Education Trust | Former U.S. Education Secretary (@JohnBKing)
  • Anthony Jack, Assistant Professor of Education, Harvard University | Author of The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students (@tony_jack)
  • Tiffany Jones, Director of Higher Education Policy, The Education Trust – moderator (@TiffanyJonesPhD)

Tuesday, June 25th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET

Capital Hilton, South America room (1001 16th St, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036)


About TIAA Institute
The TIAA Institute helps advance the ways individuals and institutions plan for financial security and organizational effectiveness. The institute conducts in-depth research, provides access to a network of thought leaders, and enables those it serves to anticipate trends, plan future strategies and maximize opportunities for success. For more information about the TIAA Institute, visit and follow us on Twitter @TIAAInstitute.

About The Education Trust
The Education Trust is a national nonprofit that works to close opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students of color and students from low-income families. Through our research and advocacy, Ed Trust supports efforts that expand excellence and equity in education from preschool through college, increase college access and completion particularly for historically underserved students, engage diverse communities dedicated to education equity, and increase political and public will to act on equity issues. Learn more at