CU Denver student commons building with sunset in the sky.

$55,000 Grant Will Help CU Denver Increase Student Success for BIPOC Adult Learners

October 18, 2021

To reduce the barriers facing adult students of color, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) recently announced a $55,000 grant to University of Colorado Denver in support of university-community partnerships that will benefit Black, Latinx, and Indigenous adult learners.

“Adult learners come to CU Denver with different experiences, needs, and assets than first-year college students. Understanding, supporting, and leveraging those differences during advising interactions is essential to students’ success,” said Monique Snowden, senior vice chancellor for strategic enrollment and student success. “With that in mind, our project involves developing and implementing an equity-based advising framework that includes reciprocal peer-to-peer coaching between Black, Latinx, and Indigenous adult learners. Project outcomes will advance CU Denver’s combined strategic goals of becoming the nation’s first equity-serving institution and a ‘university for life’.”

CU Denver is engaging community partners, including the Willow Group and Denver Chapter of the International Coach Federation, in the development and implementation of a non-traditional advising model and practices that will augment the advising support of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous adult learners enrolled in the university, the majority of whom are transfer students. The project is part of a comprehensive student success effort reflected in CU Denver’s 2030 Strategic Plan.

Seven other institutions are also receiving grants to undertake similar projects. Each institution will partner with a local organization, such as an employer, to build an ecosystem for helping Black, Latino, and Indigenous learners thrive. Additionally, institutions will critically examine their advising, enrollment and reenrollment practices, and student support services to identify and eliminate barriers facing students. Lumina Foundation is funding the effort.

The other seven institutions receiving grants are: California State University, Fresno; California State University, Los Angeles; Florida International University, the University of Illinois Chicago; University of Memphis, University of New Orleans, and Portland State University.

“These grants will help institutions develop and expand partnerships with community organizations to create an ecosystem harnessing the wealth of experiences and assets these adult learners embody,” said Christel Perkins, Assistant Vice President at APLU and Deputy Executive Director of USU.


APLU is a research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. With a membership of 244 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, APLU’s agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research, and expanding engagement. Annually, member campuses enroll 5.0 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.3 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $49.2 billion in university-based research.