Mission and Strategy


We seek to build broad public understanding that funding the first two years of a community college education for students working towards graduation is an investment in America’s future. In the 21st century, a high school diploma is no longer enough to lead Americans to a good job and a decent quality of life. Just a generation ago, the United States led the world in the number of college-educated adults; today we are 12th. Our Campaign is designed to help more Americans begin and complete a college education; acquire the critical thinking, knowledge and skills required to meet the demands of a growing global economy and a prosperous society without taking on mountains of debt. Our campaign encourages local communities and states to cover tuition and fees for every hard working student seeking to start and finish a community college education, whether that’s an associate’s degree, an occupational certificate, or credits that transfer to a four-year university. We believe that if we empower more students to complete postsecondary education without the burden of crushing debt, more Americans will seek and complete the college education that today seems unaffordable and out of reach. We want our country to have -- once again -- the greatest number of well-educated, career-ready college graduates in the world.


The College Promise Campaign uses a three-part strategy to build local and state support for College Promise programs throughout the country:  
  1. Communications and Advocacy
  2. Cross-Sector Leadership Development
  3. Research and Development

Communications and Advocacy

  • We engage the public to build broad support for free community college through our public facing outreach campaign, Heads Up America. These efforts include an outreach website, social media campaigns and promotions, public service announcements with celebrities and students, organizing coalitions of students and cross-sector partners, and hosting events and activities both online and in communities.
  • Our broad national public awareness strategy is designed to draw attention to the need for more students to start and complete a college education so they can earn a living wage and contribute to their local economy and community.
  • Our earned media strategy includes organizing and producing roundtables and public events and working with local and national stakeholders to raise regional and national awareness by encouraging Op-Eds, and letters to the editor, hosting College Promise orientations, and providing informational events in support of the College Promise.
  • We maintain a database of national and local news organizations and work proactively with the media to provide informed coverage of the College Promise movement.
  • As part of our communications strategy, we produce a broad array of research reports, essays, playbooks, and other documents that chronicle existing and emerging programs, student stories, and successful local and state College Promise initiatives that provide funding for the first two years of community college for serious students to persist, graduate and succeed in the communities in which they live and work.

Cross-Sector Leadership Development

  • Our cross-sector outreach and engagement strategy is led by a high performing National Advisory Board composed of 37 leaders representing education, business, students, philanthropy, labor, nonprofits, and government. Our board members actively seek to engage leaders from their respective sectors and regions. These leaders encourage local communities and states to design and implement College Promise policies, strategies, and funds to cover tuition and fees for responsible community college students progressing to complete their education, enter the workforce and contribute to their communities.
  • We encourage the development of effective state-based advisory committees to organize and promote messaging, outreach, and policy opportunities in their communities and states to implement and sustain the College Promise. National sector-based leadership committees (students, education, nonprofits, and philanthropies) work collaboratively and aggressively to encourage leaders from a wide range of sectors to support.

Research and Development

  • We support and disseminate a rich body of research for local communities and states to use as they consider the best evidence-based models for creating and implementing sustainable and effective College Promise programs. Our research efforts bring together and encourage key partners to examine the diverse range of College Promise program characteristics, outcomes, and collective impact for their communities and our nation. College Promise programs include such traits as eligibility criteria, funding streams, academic support, mentorships, community service, wrap-around services, and transfer credit information that help guide decision-making to increase student access, affordability, quality, and completion of the first two years of college and beyond.
  • We work with scholars, business leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders to examine and propose different financial models for creating effective and sustainable College Promise programs. This cutting-edge research is a valuable resource for policy makers, scholars and the general public as states and communities devise sustainable solutions to fund the College Promise, making a community college education affordable and performance-based for the long-term.

Take Action!

Join the movement for free community college.