2020 Conference Major Topics

Major Topic Areas

The major topic areas up for discussion at NCAN’s 2020 National Conference include:

  • Data Into Practice: practical applications of research; program evaluation; using data and technology to enhance program effectiveness; benchmarking; logic models; measuring outcomes.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI): how your organization/program is modeling DEI practices and tenets; how staff composition and practices is reflective of these tenets; leading community conversations about DEI and how can we actively participate in/lead those conversations? Does our staff have the skills and knowledge to comfortably and actively participate in DEI conversations.
  • Equity and Opportunity: ensuring equity for populations including first-generation students, students from low-income backgrounds, young men and women of color, foster or homeless youth, rural students, and undocumented/DACA students.
  • Financial Aid and Literacy: FAFSA completion; financial aid advising; scholarship management; financial literacy; using consumer information to inform college and career options; asset-building for college costs; partnerships to increase knowledge of financial aid and literacy.
  • K-12 Practice for Postsecondary Success: examples of districts that have made the systemic changes necessary to prioritize the postsecondary access and success of their students; successful partnerships among K-12, community-based organizations, and postsecondary institutions; K-12 leadership, goal-setting and accountability for student postsecondary outcomes; building a college-going culture within the K-12 community; school counselor leadership in postsecondary access/enrollment.
  • Management, Leadership, and Organizational Strategy: needs of “C-suite” staff such as resource development; financial management and budgeting; human resources management; board development; branding/communications; leadership, management and supervisory skills; sustainability; staffing; strategic planning; scaling programs and services.
  • Policy and Advocacy: policy change and implementation at the federal, state, local, or institutional levels; advocacy training; implementing successful advocacy campaigns; partnerships for advocacy and policy change.
  • Postsecondary Access and Readiness: early awareness; academic preparedness; mentoring or tutoring; family engagement; postsecondary admissions standards; working with nontraditional students; non-cognitive and social/emotional skills; effective communication strategies; college readiness; partnerships to facilitate postsecondary access and readiness.
  • Student Success in Postsecondary Education and Careers: persistence, retention, completion, and career readiness; non-cognitive and social/emotional skills and postsecondary success; partnerships to facilitate success in postsecondary education; career exploration; ensuring that students are both college and career ready.

Hot Topics

Within these major topic areas, we are especially interested in proposals that address the following Hot Topics:

  • A Look Forward: The Future of the Field: We've come a long way over the past 25 years -- starting with a focus on college access, then moving into college success, and expanding again to focus on college AND career readiness. What do the next 25 years have in store for our field, our work, and our students?
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: How is our organization/program modeling DEI practices and tenets? Is our staff composition reflective of these tenets? Our practices and core values? How can we make sure our community is having conversations about DEI and how can we actively participate in/lead those conversations? Does our staff have the skills and knowledge to comfortably and actively participate in DEI conversations?
  • Systems Change in K12 and Promoting Accountability for Student Outcomes: What is the role of district and building level leaders in cultivating a college-going culture? Why should they care about their students post-graduation? What indicators are critical in building a college-going culture in a school community? Should school leaders be held accountable for student outcomes beyond high school graduation? What K-12 practices will ensure our students make a success transition to a good fit postsecondary experience?
  • The Role of Postsecondary Institutions in the Access and Attainment of Low Income Students: How can postsecondary institutions and community-based organizations work together to meet the access and success needs of students from low income and underserved backgrounds? What can postsecondary institutions learn from and teach each other about reaching, attracting, and retaining these students?
  • Certificates, Credentials, and Degrees: Most jobs in today’s economy require education beyond high school. What are the benefits and tradeoffs of pursuing a certificate vs. a credential vs. a degree? How do student interests and experiences impact the decision about what makes most sense for them? What role does the local economy play in this decision? How can advisors help students make the best decision for their unique circumstances?
  • State Policy: What state and local policies most effectively move the needle for students from low income and underserved backgrounds? How can community-based organizations help craft, advocate for and help implement these policies? What is the role of student voice in this work?
  • Community Foundations and Strategic Grantmaking: How can community foundations target their scholarship dollars to best serve the needs of students from low income backgrounds? What is the role of data in making decisions about restructuring scholarship programs? How can foundations work with donors to implement these decisions?
  • Organizational and Program Leadership: Today’s leaders need cutting edge skills to keep their organizations vibrant, resilient and relevant. How can leaders cultivate and practice these skills scaling programs, ensuring financial health, and sustainability?