CLPHA’s Postsecondary Leadership Institute

The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA) is pleased to continue work that began in 2018 with the Kresge Foundation to convene cross-sector housing and education partners who are collaborating to improve postsecondary achievement for students served by public housing authorities, including residents and housing insecure college students.

CLPHA, through its Housing Is Initiative, established a leadership institute for a cohort of public housing authorities and their partners who demonstrate the experience and capacity for postsecondary collaboration. This opportunity supports the creation and strengthening of existing postsecondary initiatives for housing authority residents that leverage the capacity, resources, and expertise of CLPHA, its member public housing authorities (PHAs), and postsecondary partners such as community colleges and nonprofit organizations.

In order to facilitate greater development of postsecondary partnerships, PHAs often seek proven models to replicate and customize, as well as peer leaders to learn from as they implement new programs. In addition to dissemination efforts, CLPHA will invest time to further develop agencies’ existing postsecondary programs.


This Leadership Institute aims to:

  1. Increase and strengthen initiatives between PHAs and postsecondary partners;
  2. Institutionalize such efforts; and
  3. Showcase best practices for others to replicate. We will identify specific agency-partner collaborations to support with additional resources to improve postsecondary outcomes for their residents.

Through a competitive selection process, CLPHA identified specific agency-partner collaborations to support with additional resources to improve postsecondary outcomes for their residents: Chicago, LA, El Paso, Boston, Jersey City, and New Haven. Cohort members participated in monthly virtual learning sessions on topics including mission definition, program design, financing, communications, and metrics, all with an underpinning of racial equity. These topics were chosen after conversation with the cohort, observation of discussion, application indications, and a survey. The cohort also participated in office hours aimed at institutionalizing the cohort’s cross-sector work, as well as continued technical assistance for individual communities and beginning the process for in-person site visits to learn about the different projects in the field.

Below are summaries of what each community set out to achieve as part of their participation in the cohort and the progress they have made so far.

Additional Feedback from the Cohort

“I think the timing of everything is really great to see because we have kind of gone through a whole admission cycle. We’ve had probably four times as many students be considered for the scholarship program this year. We had way more students deposit that will be joining us in the fall and it 100% would not have been possible without this cohort or the collaboration, and just having more carved out time to talk about these important topics. This leadership institute has really helped put these students toward the forefront and we’re seeing it really come through for them.” - Maddie, Northeastern University


“It’s always helpful to learn from other partners and see what they're doing. I think that really enhances our work and gives us ideas on what to think about and consider.” - Jennifer, HACLA


“I think that we are having a chance to re-evaluate what it is that we do and I think that this program has been striving for over a decade and changes have been made. When I came into the program I saw a lot of things that I wanted to change and it was mostly from the outside, like “this doesn't really resonate with me. I don't really understand what's going on here”. This cohort has given me a chance to see what other people are doing that are in a similar position. It also gave me the opportunity to figure out how we can take it a step further, what other concerns can be addressed, and also just to kind of reevaluate not only the way we get our data but the type of data that we’re collecting in the beginning of the process. This cohort definitely helped with the program planning. Data and metrics was another very important aspect for me and to just kind of top it off with the marketing piece, those were the three things that really resonated with me and helped me start to think about and start to put in action things that we can do differently in Chicago.” - Erica, City Colleges of Chicago


“We've really appreciated having this monthly space to come together as a cross-sector team, a cross-organizational team and have, you know, you all facilitate a space for us to think through all these components. It's rare that you get the opportunity for that outside facilitation that’s been coupled with all the learning pieces too, I just think that that 1-2 combo has infinitely benefited us, at least from the project SOAR collaboration side of things and I just have really appreciated that.” - Alison, SoCal CAN


“From a smaller nonprofit organizational perspective, it has been really great to be part of these conversations we've been learning so much through our collaboration with our partners, but I think even just understanding the value that nonprofit organizations bring to these sorts of system-wide programs, and just continuously learning from what's going on across the nation has been really fantastic.” - PuraCarina, OMD


“I'm appreciative of the space as well. I think this actually brought a lot of insights to me as well as someone working with an agency and sometimes it’s hard to work with partners because of many variables, but it brought even more to that. For example, just today’s talk about the difference between communication and marketing. The work is so busy and it has excelled especially during COVID that you really don't have the chance to sit down and really think it through and be able to execute for our residents. I look forward to continuing this work. I look forward to visiting everywhere. I'm coming to everyone's site and I will get it out of somebody's budget because I think the experience is really necessary. I think that seeing what people are doing in different agencies can spark new ideas and it’s good to get out and get a fresh look at things, to be a spectator instead of being in it. I'm really appreciative and you all and Abra, you guys are just so awesome. I think that you really got us together, you took us out of our busy schedules to have a scope in this process, to benefit our residents, which our goal is, but you pulled us away so that we can make it a 2.0 version of what we are doing so I am appreciative of that.” -LaToya, Elm City Communities

Learn more about our postsecondary work in our 2019 report, "Eliminating Barriers to Postsecondary Success," created with with support from The Kresge Foundation. This publication elevates 11 shared learnings from a recent convening of these five pioneering PHAs and their postsecondary collaborators, and offers a series of recommendations to policy makers, PHAs, and philanthropic organizations seeking to develop emerging cross-sector collaborations between housing and education organizations.  

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