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Great Lakes Commits $28.6 Million During 2014 to Promote College Access and Completion

New Annual Report Details Successful Programs for Both High School and College Students

Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates releases its 2014 Philanthropy Report today, highlighting its work over the past year to close the college completion gap faced by students of color, low-income students and first-generation students.

"A college education remains the most reliable ladder to a better life — but only when a student pursues and successfully completes it," said Richard D. George, President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes. "That's why our goal is to ensure students leave college with a diploma or certificate in hand."

In its nearly 50 years of working to make a college education a reality for more students, Great Lakes has learned there are many barriers to college access and completion, but generally they fall into one of two categories. Great Lakes focuses its grantmaking on both challenges:

  1. Making sure high school students arrive at college academically and financially prepared.
  2. Helping college students navigate challenges that can derail their education by making sure they have access to support services for academic, financial, social and cultural issues.

Great Lakes makes grants to colleges, universities, community-based organizations and research initiatives that demonstrate promising approaches to getting more students to and through college, with the aim of learning which ideas work best.

"Our goal is not to sustain local programs serving small numbers of students for an extended period. Rather, we want to identify specific strategies that may be implemented at scale to help the most students achieve the greatest results," said Amy Kerwin, Vice President — Community Investments.

During 2014 Great Lakes committed $28.6 million in grant funding to address a number of issues hindering college access and completion, including:

  • Preparing high school students for college-level math and English to avoid remedial education.
  • Reducing "summer melt" by helping more high school graduates show up for college in the fall.
  • Preventing unforeseen financial emergencies from derailing program completion.
  • Connecting college students with learning communities to keep them engaged and enrolled.
  • Equipping apprentices with money to buy expensive clothes and tools required for their training.
  • Providing paid internships to students with financial need to improve persistence and graduation rates, as well as post-graduation employment prospects.

To read the full philanthropy report, visit

About Great Lakes: Dedicated to making college education a reality since 1967.
Knowing that education has the power to change lives for the better, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates was established as a nonprofit group focused on a single objective: helping students nationwide prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education and student loan repayment. As a leading student loan guarantor and servicer, we have been selected by the U.S. Department of Education to provide assistance and repayment planning to nearly 9 million borrowers — as well as assistance to colleges and lenders nationwide. Our group's earnings support one of the largest and most respected education philanthropy programs in the country. Since 2006, we have committed nearly $134 million in grant funding to promote higher education access and completion for students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students. For additional information, visit

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