NCAN's Mission

Our mission is to build, strengthen, and empower communities committed to college access and success so that all students, especially those underrepresented in postsecondary education, can achieve their educational dreams.

We Can Achieve College Success for All Students

Drawing on the expertise of hundreds of organizational members in almost every U.S. state, NCAN is dedicated to improving the quality and quantity of support that underrepresented students receive to apply to, enter, and succeed in college. Only 12 percent of students from low-income families complete a four-year college degree by age 24, compared to 58 percent of students from high-income families. When nonprofit organizations and schools provide specialized early awareness information, pre-college advising on admissions and financial aid, and mentoring, college entrance and completion rates rise dramatically. NCAN members touch the lives of more than two million students and families each year and span a broad range of the education, nonprofit, government, and civic sectors.

NCAN provides member organizations with professional development, networking, benchmarking, and news from the field so they can deliver college access and success services more effectively and to more students. Resources include conferences, webinars, and online tools such as guidebooks and manuals as well periodic regrants to implement new initiatives.

NCAN also advocates at the national level for policies to improve access and success for all students.

Learn more about NCAN and the college access and success movement by following us on Twitter at @collegeaccess.

NCAN's History

NCAN was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1995 by nine founding members that wanted to share best practices and spread college access and success services around the country. The founding members were:

  • CollegeBound Foundation (Baltimore, MD)
  • Cleveland Scholarship Program (now College Now Greater Cleveland)
  • The Boston Plan for Excellence in The Public Schools Foundation (now uAspire)
  • College Assistance Program of Dade County (Miami, FL) (now College Assistance Program, Inc.)
  • I KNOW I CAN (Columbus, OH)
  • Philadelphia Schools Collaborative (succeeded by Philadelphia Education Fund)
  • Scholarship Fund of Alexandria (VA)
  • Tidewater Scholarship Foundation (Norfolk, VA) (now Access College Foundation)
  • The Winston-Salem Foundation (now Crosby Scholars Program)

NCAN held its first national conference in 1997, and in 2001 received a leadership gift from KnowledgeWorks Foundation to hire its first professional staff, based in Cleveland. In 2007, NCAN relocated to Washington, D.C., to raise its national profile and add policy change to its strategies.