Gates Family Yanks $4.3 Million Grant from Texas Community Colleges, Calls System "Disorganized"

Two years ago, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched Completion by Design, a $35 million program aimed at dramatically increasing the graduation rates of community college students. The money was parceled out to nine target states, Texas among them.

The Texas group was spearheaded by the Lone Star College System in Houston and included Dallas County Community College District and three others that together enroll 289,000 students and account for a third of the state's community college students. The group was slated to receive $5.3 million, but last month, after receiving less than $1 million for planning, the Gates Foundation abruptly cut the rest of the funding.

In an email to employees obtained by Inside Higher Ed, which first reported the story, Lone Star College System chancellor Richard Carpenter wrote that the decision "reflects an unfortunate lack of commitment to the goal of increasing student success and completion at community colleges in Texas."

The Gates Foundation declined to comment for the Inside Higher Ed story, but sources said Texas' system was too sprawling and disorganized to be successful.

DCCCD quietly announced the funding loss two weeks ago but vowed to move forward with "Texas Completes," a state- and locally funded continuation of the program.

"The momentum and coherence across Texas that has resulted from our participation in Completion by Design is profound," said DCCCD Chancellor Wright Lassiter Jr. "Systems are working together like never before -- our colleges, universities, the Texas Association of Community Colleges, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, philanthropic groups and legislators -- as we rally to support the imperative to make marked improvements in student success."

Nope, they won't miss that $4.3 million at all.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson