Photo of Skyline College leadership in Washington, D.C.Skyline College has undertaken the development of the Skyline College Promise, a commitment to be the College where students can “Get in. Get through. Get out…on-time!” This involves a two-pronged approach of 1) removing financial barriers that have limited access to higher education through the Promise Scholarship, and 2) redesigning the processes, procedures, and programs of the college to increase student success, persistence, and on-time completion.

Doing this work includes learning how we can enhance the Skyline College Promise. Skyline College representatives attended the PromiseNet Conference in Washington, D.C., October 24 – 26, 2016, hosted by the nationwide College Promise Campaign. PromiseNet is a convening of practitioners, policymakers, and researchers to learn more about the College Promise movement.  Over the course of three days, stakeholders who are committed to expanding access and affordability throughout higher education came together to learn about efforts underway to replicate and scale the College Promise with state and federal support.

The central foci included: 1) Creating Your Promise, 2) Enhancing Your Promise, 3) Promise in Your Community, 4) Researching Promise, and 5) Advocating for the Promise.  Skyline College representatives included:  Dr. Angélica Garcia, Vice President of Student Services; Aaron McVean, Interim Vice President of Instruction; Chad Thompson, Interim Director of SparkPoint & Career Services; and Andrea Vizenor, Director of Career and Workforce Programs.

The Skyline College team connected with colleagues across the nation to learn about Promise Programs that focus on providing students with access to and support services for college completion. Some highlights of the conference included attending a networking session at the U.S House of Representatives, Cannon Hall, as well as attending the White House Community College Convening at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

The White House Community College Convening included an agenda of lessons learned from PromiseNet by colleagues across the country involved in Promise Programs, evidence for program design and decision-making, and sustaining partnerships for impact beyond college. Some notable presenters included the U.S. Department of Education Secretary, John King, The U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary, Ted Mitchell, White House Domestic Policy Council Director, Cecilia Muñoz, The White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, and current College Promise Campaign Executive Director, Martha Kanter.

Aaron McVean, Interim Vice President of Instruction at Skyline College, joined other community college leaders at a luncheon hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, a community college professor herself, at the Vice Presidential residence.  Vice President and Dr. Biden recognized the role of community colleges in providing the vast majority of people in the country an access point to higher education, and thanked those present for their work and dedication.  The Bidens’ warm gesture was a reaffirmation of the Obama administration’s investment in and support for community college, which is the largest part of the American higher education system.

Article by Dr. Angélica Garcia