The Million-More Mission of Civitas Learning


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Our Mission

We partner with forward-thinking colleges and universities, harnessing the power of insight and action analytics to help a million more students learn well and finish strong.

Our Goal

In accomplishing our mission, we narrow the gap in the number of graduates our country needs in order to compete and to improve the prospects of striving students in higher education. The United States must produce roughly one million more graduates a year by 2025 to ensure the country has the skilled workers and entrepreneurial leaders it needs–not to mention more deeply engaged and informed citizens. 1. Of the 30 million students in higher education today, about half will graduate, with huge disparities based on the income levels of incoming students. Today, a child born poor in the United States is more likely to remain poor than at any time in our nation’s history. For the first time, we are seeing younger generations that will be less educated than their elders. Many other nations outperform us in economic mobility and education attainment.2 In addition, there are 37 million adults with some college and no credential, many eager to finish what they started.3 As daunting as the challenge of one million more graduates sounds, we can reach the goal together by helping our community colleges and universities improve outcomes for current students, and find creative new pathways for returning students. Indeed, analysts argue that reaching this goal would increase today’s annual output of associate and bachelor’s degree-holders by about 3.5 percent4 a year for the next decade. That’s achievable.

Our Core Beliefs

We believe both insight and action are vital to achieve this goal; however, action informed by insights can be transformational.

Insight analytics include a family of data science strategies that combine hindsight (e.g., data mining) and foresight (e.g., predictive modeling) to guide initiatives in teaching, learning, student support, and institutional management. The data we pull from various systems at a college or university tell stories of the diverse student journeys through institutions. One student’s story is interesting, but looking at these journeys in an ongoing systematic way involving thousands of students and millions of student records is transformative. Using our cloud-based architecture, we provide a strategic, sustainable, and sophisticated infrastructure to help partner institutions learn when the moment is right to intervene, and when it’s not. They can now validate what interventions are the most appropriate and for whom. They can also analyze the impact of strategic policy change. Standing on this foundation, we can employ action analytics that use insight to fuel the right interventions at the right time with the right student along each individual’s learning journey. Put simply, our work with partner institutions has taught us that action fueled by insight is essential to helping students succeed.

We believe by bringing actionable information and tools to the front lines, we can radically improve and expand learning pathways for millions of students.

Most data initiatives in higher education are responses to legislation, accreditation, licensure, and reporting. It’s been about ensuring compliance more than completion. While compliance is necessary, data can have the greatest impact when institutions deploy it on the front lines and empower faculty and students to improve student outcomes. Intuitively presented data in the hands of faculty, advisors and students fuel effective personal communications and student achievement; and in the hands of students, help them take greater responsibility for their own success.

We believe we can only realize this vision by Learning Together™ across institutions.

We know we don’t have all of the answers. There’s a lot of work to be done as data initiatives get underway. What we can do is help institutions interested in the big questions start to get the answers their data can provide by strategically employing insight and action analytics. Then we can share our successes across institutions to find the best pathways and clear the big barriers. But it only works when we learn together. In fact, the name Civitas Learning means learning as a community. For those joining us on this journey, we are creating a community of institutions learning together with a shared commitment to student success through insight and action analytics. Together, we’re confident we can help a million more students succeed.

1 Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl, “Help wanted: Projection of jobs and education requirements through 2018,” Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce, 2010. 2 American Association of Community Colleges. Reclaiming the American Dream: A report from the 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. Washington, DC.(2012.) 3 Anya Kamenetz, “Dropouts: College’s 37-Million-Person Crisis – and How to Solve It, “ The Atlantic. (December 2012.) 4 Byron G. Auguste, Adam Cota, Kartik Jayaram, and Martha C. A. Laboissière – McKinsey & Company, ”Winning by Degrees: The Strategies of Highly Productive Higher Education Institutions. (November 2010.)

For Additional Reading:

Help Wanted: Projections on Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018
– Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith and Jeff Strohl

Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future
– American Association of Community Colleges, with Support from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kresge Foundation, ACT, and Educational Testing Service

Dropouts: College’s 37 Million-Person Crisis and How to Solve It
– Anya Kamenetz, The Atlantic

Winning by Degrees: The Strategies of Highly Productive Higher Education Institutions
– McKinsey & Company

Charles Thornburgh

CEO and Founder of Civitas Learning, Thornburgh discovered a passion for education during his undergraduate days at Stanford, and upon graduating translated that passion into the founding of multiple successful ed-tech start-ups. He is a two-time CODiE Award recipient and is listed on “16 People Changing the Landscape of Online Education Forever” by Find Education Online.

Dr. Mark Milliron

Dr. Milliron is an award-winning leader, author, speaker, and consultant who has worked in universities, community colleges, foundations, corporations, and associations across the U.S. As Chief Learning Officer and Co-Founder of Civitas Learning, he focuses on a wide range of activities for the company, from shaping product development to engaging the education community in leading research projects.

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