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Arizona Innovation Alliance to support student success in Yuma

Sharing on behalf of the Arizona Board of Regents.

February 11, 2021

Contact:
Sarah Harper, 602-229-2542, 602-402-1341 | Sarah.K.Harper@azregents.edu
Julie Newberg, 602-229-2534 | julie.newberg@azregents.edu

The Arizona Innovation Alliance (AIA), a tri-university partnership to enhance public higher education in Arizona, is launching a new project to support student success and increase educational opportunities in Yuma.

“Bringing more educational resources to the Yuma area is important for the future success of the city and our state. Through the work of the newly formed Arizona Innovation Alliance, our universities will work together to identify ways to expand educational opportunity in Yuma so more students are able to earn a degree and succeed in an economy that demands highly skilled workers. We appreciate and look forward to working with Arizona Western College and President Dr. Daniel Corr to advance our shared priorities,” said Arizona Board of Regents Chair Larry E. Penley.

“Yuma is a vibrant growing place. There’s a little bit of magic in the air down there and there’s great vitality and passion for education and creating a college-going culture in this community," Corr said.

The Yuma initiative aligns with the AIA’s overarching focus on improving the retention, graduation and academic performance of traditionally underserved students. This will ensure students from all walks of life increasingly have access to higher education.

“I applaud the Arizona Board of Regents’ focus on higher education attainment in Yuma,” said Yuma Mayor Douglas J. Nicholls. “The Arizona Innovation Alliance will be instrumental in transforming the lives of the residents of our community and communities across rural Arizona.” 

Students in Yuma are excelling in many areas of education. Specifically, Yuma high schools with high levels of at risk students, are significantly outperforming Arizona averages in key measures.

“For some time now, we have noticed educational success in Yuma, specifically Yuma high schools with high levels of at-risk students are significantly outperforming Arizona averages in terms of high school graduation rates, post high school enrollment in higher education and six-year graduation for their high-school graduates,” said ABOR Executive Director John Arnold.

One area where Yuma area graduates trail the state is in four-year degree completion. Yuma area high school graduates completed two-year degrees at almost triple the rate of the rest of the state and yet they complete four-year degrees at less than half the rate of the rest of the state.

The AIA partnership brings together all of Arizona’s public universities. Together, this tri-university coalition is working to enhance student success, offer technology solutions, improve general cost effectiveness and support best practices for resource allocation. Its structure encourages collaboration among the universities for innovation and sharing best practices that achieve the Arizona Board of Regents’ promise of access and attainment while increasing quality, affordability and efficiency.

The initial focus of the AIA includes: 

Improving first-year retention, four-year graduation, and six-year graduation rates in line with ABOR-established metrics. 

Increase the number of Pell-eligible students enrolled and graduating. 

Enroll entering resident undergraduate cohorts (freshman and transfer) which reflect the income and ethnic diversity of the overall population of high school graduates in Arizona.

The AIA is modeled on the University Innovation Alliance, a coalition of 11, nationwide universities including Arizona State University. ASU President Michael Crow is leading the effort. The board has allocated $700,000 to support the work of the AIA, and each university is committing resources to implement work at the university level.

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