News from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities
ACCU Joins Efforts to Encourage Vaccinations
ACCU has joined two new efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake and promote vaccine equity.
Launched on World Health Day, April 7, An Act of Charity and Solidarity represents 50 Catholic organizations united in supporting the vaccine as an effort for the common good. The coalition is also drawing on Catholic Social Teaching to promote vaccine equity in the United States and around the world, especially for people who are underserved or marginalized.
Recognizing there has been differing information about and acceptance of the vaccines, the organizations seek to amplify the teachings of Pope Francis and U.S. Catholic bishops on accepting the vaccines as they become available and promoting equitable distribution.
"Many will get vaccinated for their families' or the public's good health,” observed Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, CM, president of ACCU. “Catholics are the same; they just have the encouragement of Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, who cared for someone he didn't even know.”
Read more at catholiccares.org.
ACCU is also a founding member of the COVID-19 Community Corps, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) initiative. The nationwide, grassroots network is designed to bring together a variety of voices people know and trust to encourage Americans to get vaccinated. This effort aims to mobilize health professionals, community organizations, faith leaders, businesses, athletes, and Americans from all walks of life to become leaders within their own communities to help get friends, family, and neighbors vaccinated.
Read more at hhs.gov.
President Biden has announced a goal of administering at least one vaccine shot to at least 70 percent of adult Americans, and to get to 160 million Americans being fully vaccinated by July 4th. As a part of the effort to achieve those goals, the White House and the U.S. Department of Education are inviting colleges and universities across the country to join the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge.
Participating colleges commit to taking three key actions to help get their campus communities vaccinated: engaging every student, faculty, and staff member; organizing their college communities; and delivering vaccine access for all.
Find more information about the White House College Vaccine Challenge at https://www.whitehouse.gov/COVIDCollegeChallenge/.
Fight to #DoublePell Ramps Up
Forty years ago, Pell Grants covered more than three-quarters of the cost of college. Today, the maximum grant covers less than 30% of that cost.
Couple that fact with the effects of the pandemic, which has increased the struggles of low-income students and the urgency of raising the Pell Grant is apparent. Supporters believe that Pell Grants are the fairest, most efficient, and time-tested way to get education funding to those who need it most.
Driven by this need, more than 1,200 organizations, including ACCU and more than 140 of its member colleges and universities, signed a letter this past spring urging Congress to “double Pell.” This effort is now continuing into its next phase, aimed at raising the Pell Grant maximum to $13,000.
Later in the summer, ACCU will be joining both the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and the American Council on Education (ACE) in further advancing the effort to double Pell. New resources, including a toolkit to help college presidents draft op-eds and craft individual speaking points, are being developed this summer. Then, closer to the back-to-school season, the Double Pell Coalition will initiate efforts to activate students in this work.
Be sure to follow ACCU on Twitter to keep up with further developments, as the higher education community helps generate widespread support for doubling the maximum Pell Grant and converting that support into action by policy makers.
ACCU and Credo Work to ‘Move the Needle’
ACCU and consulting firm Credo have announced the launch of a first Moving the Needle cohort in fall 2021 to improve student outcomes across ACCU member institutions.
Credo’s Moving the Needle (MTN) project engages campus communities in developing, implementing, and enhancing the conditions, practices, systems, and solutions that foster student success and retention. The joint effort with ACCU will bring together small cohorts of Catholic colleges and universities to strengthen their capacity to support students from matriculation to graduation.
Congratulations to the ACCU members that will make up the first cohort: Assumption University, Gwynedd Mercy University, Newman University, Mount St. Mary's University (Maryland), and the University of St. Francis (Illinois).
The project will Identify each institution’s challenges and opportunities regarding retention, uncovering the most promising areas for progress and implementing proven strategies for success. It is hoped that efforts will result in improved retention and graduation rates, a corresponding increase in institutional net revenue, and the strengthening of each college’s mission and institutional culture.
At a challenging time for increasing new student enrollment, improved retention is a critical strategy for institutions to achieve sustained financial resilience. For ACCU member colleges and universities, improving retention rates is essential to enhancing the inclusive, student-centered mission of Catholic higher education.
Read more about MTN at https://www.credohighered.com/services/moving-the-needle.