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Gates Pledges $110 Million to Remedial Programs at Community Colleges

Today, Melinda Gates announced a pledge of up to $110 million to improve remedial programs on community college campuses. Delivering a speech at the annual American Association of Community Colleges convention in Seattle, Gates urged community college presidents to come up with new technologies and fresh ideas to replace weak remedial programs.

The foundation has already given about half its commitment to colleges and programs to improve developmental education since 2008. Another $57 million will be given as grants over the next two years.

Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, called traditional remedial or developmental education programs on campuses low-quality and in need of transformation. While she praised community colleges for leading the way on access, she called on them to now be leaders on college completion.

About 60 percent of students enrolling in community college must take at least one remedial course to catch up, according to the Community College Research Center. Only 25 percent of students who take these courses earn a degree within eight years of enrolling.

Earlier at the AACC convention, U.S. Undersecretary for Education Martha Kanter spoke about President Obama's goal of helping 8.2 million more Americans attain a college degree by 2020. She urged community college leaders to focus on access, quality, and completion. The popular quote floating on Twitter following her speech was: "Community colleges provide opportunity for the top 100 percent of Americans." Kanter also talked of the need for K-12 to do a better job preparing students for college-level work.

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