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Challenge Sponsor Spotlight: USA Funds

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Over the course of the Future of Higher Ed Challenge, we'll be featuring Q&As with our Challenge Sponsors, the organizations and individuals who have partnered with us in building this Challenge, and will play a significant role in supporting top ideas moving forward.

This week, let’s get to know USA Funds, one of our 4 Challenge sponsors. 

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The Quick Facts

USA Funds is a nonprofit corporation that has worked since 1960 to enhance preparation for, access to, and success in postsecondary education. They’ve served more than 22 million students and parents with more than $250 billion in financial aid for higher education. They now work to connect success in higher education to success in careers following graduation, a focus they call Completion With a Purpose.

The Juicy Details

What are 3 words that describe your organization?

Mission-focused, curious, solution-oriented

If your organization had a superhero doppelganger, which would it be?

Iron-Man. He solves problems, is focused on his mission of saving people from threats, and is curious about possibilities.

What brought you to the Higher Ed Challenge? Give us one word that describes your feelings about it!

Optimistic. There are many opportunities for innovation across the higher education sector: in service to students, in delivery of programs, and through inclusion of new points of view. USA Funds is excited to support efforts in all three of these areas.

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If you could give participants in the Challenge one piece of advice, what would it be?

“Let your curiosity for the status-quo challenge your thinking of what could be different!”

What are the biggest opportunity areas you see in the higher ed space?

We believe there needs to be a national conversation and agenda around the connections between education and employment. We also believe those connections need to be made for students of all backgrounds, ages, experiences and aptitudes. In our eyes, the best way to gain understanding into the needs of the current student is to actually ask them: seeking out the voice of the consumer to inform decision-making, policy-making and solutions is critical to reforming and rethinking the way higher education does business.

At no time in history has postsecondary education been more needed or more criticized. Concerns abound that the sector are increasingly disconnected from the students intended to serve. Questions have been raised about whether students are receiving value for their commitments of time and resource to their credential pursuits. Students are no longer "traditional" and there is no longer a "traditional" path to access, persist and complete postsecondary education. Moreover, there is a national imperative to ensure that programs of study are actually aligned with employers' skill and talent needs.

What kinds of ideas or solutions are you most excited about seeing in the Challenge?  

We’re most excited for ideas and/or solutions that provide new ways of thinking about the connection between education and employment, as well as the various decision-points and opportunities for improvement along the way.

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The Fine Print:

Where is your organization headquartered?

Indianapolis, Indiana

What is your organization’s mission?

Today USA Funds has adopted Completion With a Purpose℠ as its guiding principle. While aiming to increase the percentage of students who finish what they start in college or other postsecondary programs, Completion With a Purpose has the additional critical goal of ensuring a smoother transition from education to employment in the 21st Century global workforce.  

Who does your organization work with?

Our focus is on helping a broad spectrum of Americans successfully complete their postsecondary credential and successfully transition to the workforce.

Questions? Connect with USA Funds on Twitter @USAFundsOrg or via email at 

Join USA Funds, and the rest of the OpenIDEO community in the Future of Higher Ed Challenge!

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