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College Joins Yes We Must Coalition

Keuka College has joined a national organization that advocates for needy students and their colleges.

Dr. Gary Smith

The College recently became a member of the Yes We Must Coalition, a non-profit organization of 32 small, private, non-profit colleges and universities across the U.S. that work to help low-income, first generation, and minority students receive a higher education.

Coalition members collaborate to lower the costs of higher education and be a voice—supported by data—to educate the public and influence policy and practice that impacts students. Each member of Yes We Must is a college or university with fewer than 5,000 students with at least 50 percent of its students eligible to receive Pell Grants.

“Keuka College is a perfect fit for the Yes We Must Coalition,” said Dr. Gary Smith, vice president for enrollment management, marketing, and international relations. “Since its founding nearly 125 years ago, Keuka has been dedicated to providing access to higher education to under-served students.”

Smith indicated that 25 percent of Keuka freshmen who enrolled last fall are first generation students.

“We look forward to sharing best practices with other member schools and supporting the mission and goals of the Yes We Must Coalition,” said Smith.

Motivated by data that supports a widening education gap—for example, students from rich families are seven times as likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree by age 24 than those from poor families—the coalition was formed three years ago.

And it seems its voice is being heard.

In April, presidents from 12 Yes We Must schools met with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and key White House staff members in Washington, D.C.  They shared information about how their institutions operate so efficiently and discussed possible collaborations with the U.S. Department of Education.

In addition, the coalition’s work is supported by a $150,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation.