College Futures operates on the belief that student success is essential to both the economic and social success of our society, and that every qualified student in California should have the opportunity to succeed in college. To that end, the Foundation works with partners throughout the state to increase bachelor's degree attainment among low-income students and others who are underrepresented in higher education.
Under Lopez's guidance, the Foundation shifted its strategy from a focus on college access as a grantor of student scholarships to a focus on college attainment, working on changing policies, practices, systems, and institutions to better support student success. The central piece of its programmatic strategy is now the "Pipeline to Degree" initiative, which emphasizes student readiness and effective transitions along the degree completion pathway.
Says Lopez, "students are at the center of everything we do. Following their pathway, and learning about their experiences and struggles has driven how we approach this work."
Says Toby Rosenblatt, chairman of the College Futures board of directors, "Our mission hasn't changed—and won't change with the coming leadership transition. We are indebted to Julia for greatly improving our ability to achieve that mission by bringing about a significant evolution for the foundation's leadership as well as its work."
During Lopez's tenure, the Foundation has encouraged the use of data in student success work, forged and strengthened partnerships that cut across the boundaries of institution and sector, invested in local leaders to advance regional educational attainment agendas, and seeded and supported innovation in higher education.
According to Rosenblatt and Lopez, College Futures has become a strategic foundation able to work effectively in a complex and ever-changing landscape, as well as a learning organization that embraces reflection and refinement.
Says Rosenblatt, "We are deliberate and focused about the levers we pull to improve the pipeline for students seeking degrees, yet nimble when it comes to opportunities—and we are constantly improving. Julia has helped develop a board that collectively holds this vision. We are fortunate to have worked alongside a leader with her passion, intellect, creativity, and good partnership."
Lopez has been a leading champion of students and low-income populations throughout her career.
"I feel lucky and proud to have worked with such a skilled and dedicated staff and board," says Lopez. "I have also learned from and been inspired by our grantees and partners as they work thoughtfully, passionately, and tirelessly on behalf of students."
Lopez sees this moment as "a good time for new leadership to come aboard. The foundation is on a strong new trajectory to significantly improve college access and success for California students. We have the resources and plans in place to take our work to the next level, and many opportunities ahead."
According to Rosenblatt, "The board is committed to that trajectory. Ms. Lopez leaves a legacy to be proud of."
Russ Gould, vice chair and chair-elect of the College Futures board of directors, will be heading a search committee to find Lopez's successor.
College Futures Foundation (previously known as College Access Foundation of California) is a private foundation working with partners throughout the state to increase bachelor's degree attainment among low-income students and others who are underrepresented in higher education. College Futures Foundation operates on the belief that every qualified student in California should have the opportunity to succeed in college and it recognizes that creating a vibrant future for our state requires awarding more bachelor's degrees to broader populations of students. Established in 2005, College Futures supports work in three areas: improving student transitions toward degree completion; developing and strengthening partnerships across institutions, systems, and regions to drive increases in bachelor's degree attainment; and reducing gaps between policy and practice to advance student access to and success in college. For more information about the foundation, visit www.collegefutures.org
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SOURCE College Futures Foundation