A student-centric initiative to chart the rapidly evolving higher education





The higher education sector faces a crucial set of decisions that will shape its future for decades to come. While the current pandemic has amplified the strain on an already-vulnerable higher education sector, institutions have the opportunity to transform in proactive and student-centric ways.  

We are committed to driving innovation in higher education by

  • Using the latest tools in data science to provide realtime models and analysis for policymakers, regulators, administrators in higher education, and philanthropists.

  • Convening cross-disciplinary groups of experts from accrediting bodies, higher education administration, nonprofits, and private industry to provide further insight.


The largest single data set on the impact of Covid-19

on Higher Education.

We've set out to compile the largest single data set on the impact of Covid-19 on higher education: the MAPS Dashboard (Model, Analyze, Prototype, Share). The MAPS Dashboard is the beginning of a larger project to track how the pandemic is impacting state policies, institutional impact and—most critically—student outcomes. The dashboard is central to the MAPS Project, a higher education initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hastened an impending crisis, which could see colleges and universities face a decade’s worth of enrollment decline in just one year. The 10 percent decline in new students that Nathan Grawe projected would happen from 2018 to 2029 has transformed into an immediate and potentially disastrous problem as the current pandemic sends shock waves through the higher education system. 

For the past two years, we've considered and prepared frameworks and strategies for institutions to engage in proactive, equitable, student-centric decision making in the face of declining enrollment. Using the latest tools in data science, we collected and cleaned hundreds of data sets to build a model of the potential impacts of enrollment trends on students, including how scenarios may play out across time and different geographies.

As institutions of higher education attempt to rapidly adjust to Covid-19, the lives of 25 million students will be impacted. Many students have signaled their intention to return or go to colleges and universities in the fall even if there is no vaccine. Another survey showed that high school seniors who are minorities are statistically significantly more likely to defer if campus is open

As all Americans continue to address and handle the effects of coronavirus, new waves of xenophobia continue to grip our country. As a first-generation college student, I experienced fear of discrimination both on campus this semester and abroad during spring break. After returning to the United States, I feared being persecuted while wearing a mask to run errands at the grocery store or gas station. Even now, the spectrum of racially-motivated violence weighs heavily on my mind. As the pandemic continues, racial injustice is at the forefront of American society. While the current situation is unique, it is not new — like a domino effect, past decisions and events have led our society to where it is now.

Report: Higher ed’s key role in rural innovation ecosystems

Innovation and tech economies are the key to rural America’s future—and rural institutions of higher education (IHEs) can play a huge role in building the ecosystems that support that work. While many rural communities have been left out of the country’s digital revolution, higher ed institutions bring the resources and expertise that can power small towns’ transition into tech-based opportunity. 

Equitable Student Outcomes



Amy Laitinen
Director for Higher Education,
New America
Ann Lichter
Director of Strategic Partnerships,
Center on Rural Innovation
David Tandberg, PhD
Vice President for Policy Research &
Strategic Initiative, SHEEO
Gregory W. Fowler, PhD
SNHU Global Campus
Harry L. Williams, PhD
President & CEO,
Thurgood Marshall College Fund 
Jacob Fraire
President & CEO,
Texas Association of Community Colleges 
Janet L. Holmgren, PhD
President Emerita, Mills College, Oakland, Ca; Principal, Jangren Higher Education Consulting LLC, Oakland, CA 
Jamienne S. Studley, JD
WASC Senior College & University Commission
Jared Colston
Doctoral Researcher,
University of Wisconsin-Madison
John MacIntosh
Managing Partner,
SeaChange Capital Partners
Kevin McFarland
Head of Industry Partnerships,
Laurie A. Carter, JD
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
Marc Dones
Executive Director,
National Innovation Service
Matthew Eckel
Director of Policy & Research,
Young Invincibles  
Nick Hillman, PhD
Associate Professor of Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis,
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Shaun Harper, PhD
Professor of Business & Clifford and Betty Allen Chair in Urban Leadership,
USC Race & Equity Center Executive Director Greater Los Angeles Area
Shelley C. Nickel
Retired-Former Executive Vice Chancellor
for Strategy and Fiscal Affairs,
University System of Georgia
Stuart Andreason  
Director of Center for Workforce & 
Economic Opportunity,
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta​
Ya-Chi Hung
Senior Research Scientist,
USC Race and Equity Center
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