Back-to-School: Re-engaging Students

The application period for Back-to-School: Re-engaging Students has closed.

Many high school graduates never enrolled in college due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent report by the National Student Clearinghouse, nationally there was an over 13 percent decrease in first-time enrollments between Fall 2019 and 2021.1 In California, the total enrollment loss since 2019 is over 10%, compared to the national average (5.1%).2 According to data from the Clearinghouse, “[i]n Los Angeles Unified, the largest school district in California, college-going rates decreased from 68% to 59% between 2019 to 2020, a drop of more than 2,600 students”.3

In response to the current moment, a subset of the Collaborative initiated a pooled fund to support innovative action to re-engage and enroll students who graduated from high school and never enrolled in college and students who may have stopped out of college, with a priority on the former. The joint initiative, Back-to-School: Re-engaging Students, seeks to not only enroll students into college but also to create systems change to improve enrollment pathways.

Pooled fund members included:

California Community Foundation
College Futures Foundation
The Ichigo Foundation
The Kresge Foundation
Michelson 20MM Foundation
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation


In early 2023, the Collaborative awarded the Back-to-School grant to Southern California College Attainment Network (SoCal CAN). SoCal CAN will use the grant to launch the LA College Comeback initiative that seeks to support LA County students who paused their education and want to make a comeback to enhance their lives and better prepare for the workforce. The initiative will be housed within their Let’s Go To College CA project. The initiative will include a student-led strategic communications campaign, one to one advising support for returning students, emergency aid, and coordinated efforts between community-based organizations, workforce groups, higher-ed institutions, and other key players to develop a unified approach to increase postsecondary enrollment in LA County.


  1. National Student Clearinghouse, 
  2.  National Student Clearinghouse, Fall 2021 Current Term Enrollment Estimates (CTEE) Report
  3.  Cal Matters, How some college counselors are fighting back against pandemic-induced enrollment decline
Scroll to Top