Today, I’m delighted to announce NCAN’s change of name from the National College Access Network to the National College Attainment Network and to introduce our new logo and brand. These updates are the first step in celebrating the 25th anniversary of NCAN’s founding in 1995 by nine trailblazing organizations. “Our new name reflects our evolving mission to help all students to the finish line of postsecondary attainment,” NCAN Board President Nate Easley says.
First, we make the name change to fully own and celebrate what NCAN and our members have known and practiced for decades: Students need support not just to access higher education, but also to persist and complete a degree or credential and be prepared for a career. NCAN members pioneered the field of college completion long before it gained national attention, and much of NCAN’s capacity-building and policy work focuses on better supporting students during their postsecondary years. It is important that our organizational identity conveys the full range of work of our membership, from college preparation and entrance all the way through to graduation and career readiness.
In particular, the new name will help us communicate our focus more clearly to new stakeholders in the education and policy sectors. Fortuitously, we can also continue to use the acronym NCAN for its convenience and strong brand awareness in our field.
Second, NCAN’s new logo reflects our recently refreshed mission statement: to build, strengthen, and empower education communities to close equity gaps in postsecondary attainment for all students (new emphasis bolded). The three lines represent the equity gaps we work to help close and the attainment all students can achieve with the right support and policies. The lines begin at different points to denote existing equity gaps – such as the ones students of color, first-generation college-goers, and students from low-income backgrounds face in attaining postsecondary credentials. The lines end at a single point – coming together, closing the gaps, and meeting at the zenith of success for all students. Our bright color palette retains two shades of blue from our previous brand and adds orange to represent the continued energy behind our mission. The strong typography expresses our bold goals, and the dynamic linework conveys forward motion, positive outcomes, and progress.
In addition to our name and branding changes, we will mark NCAN’s 25th anniversary in more ways throughout 2020, such as:
Featuring the success of NCAN member program alumni (former students) in social media and at NCAN’s national conference, Sept. 14-16 in New Orleans.
Sharing videos of NCAN members’ current students and longtime staff members as they reflect on what they’ve accomplished and what challenges lie ahead.
Blog posts from founding members about how our field has changed and must continue to change to close equity gaps for students.
Recognizing the longevity and growing diversity of NCAN member organizations.
Hosting a major 25th anniversary reception for all our national conference attendees in New Orleans.
Delivering on our new strategic plan goals to further build member capacity, advance policies that support our students, and help K-12 and higher education systems implement practices to increase postsecondary success.
We thank the creative firm Hager Sharp for leading our rebranding engagement and the Travelers Foundation for related financial support. We also thank our 25th anniversary planning committee for their fantastic ideas and assistance: Caroline Altman Smith (Kresge Foundation), Farhad Asghar (Carnegie Corporation of NY), Sarah Belnick (ECMC Foundation), Sujuan Boutté (Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance), Austin Buchan (College Forward), Braulio Colón (Helios Education Foundation), Steve Colón (Bottom Line), Tina Fernandez (Achieve Atlanta), Lee Friedman (College Now Greater Cleveland), Dreama Gentry (Partners for Education, Berea College), Bob Giannino (uAspire), Amanda Hill (Cowen Institute, Tulane University), Amy Kerwin (Ascendium Education Group), Monica Montenegro (East Bay Consortium), Pat Roe (Strada Education Network), and Bonnie Sutton (ACCESS College Foundation).
Most of all, thanks to NCAN’s incredibly loyal, dedicated, and talented membership for believing that we are stronger together, whether for the purposes of field-building, partnerships, professional development, or policy change. The NCAN staff and board join me in saying it is a pleasure to work for you and with you, and we look forward to continued progress for and with our students.