The Frontier Set

A national collaborative that identified and shared what works to accelerate student success.

Learn more.
Frontier Set Meeting
Nurdan Aydin and Meriem Bendaoud of New Jersey City University discuss takeaways at the 2022 Frontier Set capstone meeting.

An ambitious collaborative endeavor that accelerated national efforts to improve student success in new and profound ways.

The Frontier Set was a national collaborative of 29 colleges and universities and two state systems of higher education. Running from 2017-2022 and supported by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, its purpose was to identify, understand and share what works to accelerate student success, especially for low-income and first generation students, students of color, and working adults.

AASCU institutions are already pioneering what is possible by transforming the way their institutions operate in order to produce substantial gains in completion rates. As members of the Frontier Set, they had the opportunity to collaborate with other institutions to refine, codify, share and scale that work. Joining the AASCU institutions in this project were 23 other campuses, representing research universities, community colleges, and HBCUs, as well as two state systems of higher education.

Frontier Set Gala
AASCU staff and participants from University of North Carolina Greensboro at the Frontier Set Capstone Gala, 2022.

AASCU’s Participating Institutions

  • College of Staten Island, City University of New York
  • New Jersey City University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Sam Houston State University (TX)
  • University of North Carolina-Greensboro
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Program Objectives

  • Identify the distinctive models that are emerging for student success and evaluate each with respect to its costs, benefits and developmental trajectory 
  • Accelerate the development of replicable models for regional comprehensive institutions 
  • Gather evidence about these models’ effectiveness, cost and sustainability  
  • Capture lessons learned by early innovators which, with related supports, may enable others to follow with less implementation cost, reduced risk and faster time to impact 
Frontier Set Story

In this video, Frontier Set participants look back on their experiences and share how the program helped their efforts to transform their institutions and accelerate student success.


“Working with AASCU and the Frontier Set teams helped us shift from student success talk to equity-oriented action, which was paramount to our transformational journey. Northern Arizona University aims to be the nation’s preeminent engine of opportunity, vehicle of economic mobility, and driver of social impact by delivering equitable postsecondary value in Arizona and beyond.”

K. Laurie Dickson

Vice President for University Strategy
Northern Arizona University

“It has been a privilege to lead CSI’s participation in the “Frontier Set.” This project catalyzed dramatic changes at CSI that involved large-scale reforms in workflow, advising, student policies, curriculum, and instruction. At this point. the student experience is at the center of all conversations and our focus is on continuously working toward equity in student outcomes.”

Ralf Peetz

Associate Provost/AVP, Undergraduate Studies and Student Success, Interim Dean of Science and Technology
College of Staten Island, City University of New York

“The Frontier Set (FS) allowed several student success practitioners like me to find a community of like-minded individuals with the same interest in education. With the support of our intermediary at AASCU, we have become a student-center institution committed to the equitable improvement of the education of our students. The FS was not only an institutional transformational experience but also a personal one.”

Leo Pignataro

Executive Academic Officer of Student Success
College of Staten Island, City University of New York

“I couldn’t have had better student success thought partners than with the staff at AASCU. They know how to create community and safe spaces where my colleagues and I could talk openly and frankly about the challenges we face in our institutional transformation work, and they pushed my thinking and supported me as I developed new frameworks that I was struggling to articulate. My relationship with AASCU has enabled me to gain more confidence in myself as a student success leader, and they’ve lifted my work and the work of my colleagues up in so many impactful ways.”

Jonikka Charlton

Associate Provost of Student Success and Dean of University College
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

The Frontier Set is a select group of high-performing, high-potential colleges and universities, state systems, and supporting organizations committed to dramatically increasing student success and erasing attainment gaps. In this video, you will hear from representatives of Frontier Set sites talking about what the work means to them.

Frontier Set Partner

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