At College Futures Foundation, we believe in the power of postsecondary opportunity. We believe that securing the postsecondary success of students facing the most formidable barriers will ensure that all of us can thrive—our communities, our economy, and our state. We believe that the equitable education system of the future, one that enables every student to achieve their dreams and participate in an inclusive and robust economy, will be realized if we are focused, determined, and active in our leadership and partnership.
We also know that the past few years have brought profound shifts in California’s education and workforce landscapes — including college enrollment declines alongside high demand for affordable, career-connected training, national conversations on student debt and mental health, and numerous other changes prompted or accelerated by COVID-19 and a nationwide racial reckoning. These changes have underscored the realities of how inequitably our systems center and serve diverse people. We know that the coming years will present equally significant challenges and opportunities, and that we must be well-prepared to meet these moments.
With this in mind, and with our new President & CEO Eloy Ortiz Oakley joining College Futures in 2022 at a powerful inflection point in our organization’s evolution, we decided to embark upon a strategic refresh process and chart a strong course for our efforts over the coming years.
Sharing our New Vision and Mission Statements
Over the past several months, College Futures Foundation has been engaged in the first phase of this strategic refresh process, creating a new vision and mission for the organization. The updated vision statement below provides a “north star” to guide our work, with an enduring commitment to equity, and opportunity through education, at its core.
Vision: We envision a California where postsecondary education advances racial, social, and economic equity, unlocking upward mobility now and for generations to come.
This statement reflects our perspective that postsecondary education is a vital force for advancing equity today and over time and generations. We believe that the benefits of postsecondary education, including its power to spur upward mobility, should be realized by California’s diverse learners.
Our updated mission statement provides a refreshed take on the role of College Futures in fulfilling that vision:
Mission: Our mission is to increase postsecondary completion for learners who are underserved. We center learners and their aspirations and needs on the path to achieving their educational goals.
Oakley, who previously served on College Futures’ board and as Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, a University of California Regent, and a senior higher education advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education, before stepping into the role of President & CEO at the Foundation, noted the evolution here: “We recognize the value of postsecondary attainment at many levels and in many forms to learners and the workforce, and our updated mission reflects an expansion of our postsecondary completion focus outside the Foundation’s previous focus on bachelor’s degrees to now include shorter-term credentials, which are in demand in the labor market and create opportunity for upward mobility for Californians.”
“The mission also reflects our commitment to diverse learners who face outsized barriers to postsecondary success and are underserved by the state’s postsecondary system,” Eloy noted. “It shows respect for the paths they are on and speaks to our desire to support them to achieve their unique educational goals.”
Aligning Our Process with Our Values
In line with our foundation values, especially those of curiosity and community, the development of our new vision and mission was informed by input from a range of important stakeholders in our work, including College Futures’ staff, Board of Directors, grantees, and key partners. Working together with Sova, a mission-oriented consultancy focused on postsecondary education and workforce development, we reached out to grantees and partners to request their participation in interviews and a grantee survey earlier this year. We were grateful to receive responses from over 90 people from across California’s postsecondary landscape.
The ideas, values, and opportunities for impact that respondents shared have informed our thinking to date and will continue to be valuable inputs to phase two of the strategic refresh process, when we will build a strategy to bring the new vision and mission to life. Thank you to our partners in the work of creating more equitable outcomes for California learners and in sharing your perspectives so that our organization can better meet the needs of the state and its diverse communities, now and in the future.
We will not realize this vision on our own, but in partnership. As we move into the next phase of our strategic refresh process, the board and staff of College Futures will be guided by our new vision and mission to align with organizations that share a vision of equity and upward mobility for Californians. We look forward to collaborating with partners across and beyond the postsecondary ecosystem.
In phase two, we will develop a strategy and articulate a set of clear priorities to guide and organize how we deploy all of the Foundation’s various resources and roles—thought partnership, voice, action, collaboration, convening, influence, and more, including via grants to partners—toward a vision of a more equitable California.
We plan to announce our new strategy in early 2024, and will share more over the coming months. In the meantime, please let us know your comments and questions. We don’t yet have all the answers. We are in the process of becoming better champions, grateful to do so with your partnership and support, and eager to act with the urgency and boldness that California’s diverse learners deserve.
Chair of the Board of College Futures Foundation