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Normandale selected by the Gardner Institute to join the inaugural cohort of Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience

Normandale Community College is thrilled to announce its selection as a participant in a new national initiative, Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience. Led by the Gardner Institute, a leading national student success non-profit organization, this initiative has been made possible in part through the generous support of Ascendium Education Group, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ECMC Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation.

The Foundational Postsecondary Experience initiative aims to transform the critical first two years of college education during which students create the foundation of ultimate success and degree completion.  The effort will help institutions focus on inequitable performance gaps and take action to improve student learning and success.

By participating in this initiative, Normandale will collaborate closely with the Gardner Institute and the 10 other institutions in the inaugural cohort over a five-year period to develop innovative strategies, enhance teaching and learning practices, and promote student success and retention. The effort will help the institution move towards eliminating demographics, zip code, and other variables as the best predictors of who does nor does not succeed.

“One of our strategic goals at Normandale focuses on increasing degree completion or baccalaureate transfer,” said Normandale Community College President Joyce Ester. “We think it is extremely important to explore innovative ways to help our students succeed. It is an exciting opportunity to be one of two community colleges in the nation to be part of this new initiative to help transform the foundational postsecondary experience.”

Dr. Drew Koch, CEO of the Gardner Institute, shared, "We are thrilled to welcome Normandale Community College to the inaugural cohort of Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience. The five-year commitment demonstrates the institution’s dedication to transforming the postsecondary experience for all of their students.”

Koch continued, “This is a bold action. Normandale clearly recognizes that doing hard things requires long-term commitment, and improving student success in ways that maintain access, eliminate performance gaps, and uphold quality is very hard. But Normandale is committed to doing this hard work. That is why it was selected to take part."

The eleven participating institutions in the inaugural Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience cohort enroll nearly 115,000 undergraduate students. Over two-fifths (43%) of those students receive a Pell Grant; and over two-fifths (41%) of the students identify as African American, Hispanic, Indigenous, or two or more races. The institutions include:

For further information about Normandale participation in the inaugural Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience cohort, please contact:

Steven Geller
Director of Media and Public Relations

For more information about the Gardner Institute and/or the Transforming the Foundational Postsecondary Experience effort, please visit or contact:

Katie Locke

Director of Communications, Marketing, and Engagement


About Normandale Community College: Normandale is the largest two-year college with over 14,000 enrolled students, and is located in Bloomington, Minn. Normandale offers over 70 degree and certificates whose mission is to cultivate a welcoming community, foster every student’s talents, and build an equitable world.

 The John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education is a non-profit that partners with colleges, universities, philanthropic organizations, and others to help them create and implement strategic plans for student success focused on improving teaching, learning, retention, and completion. Through doing so, the Institute strives to advance higher education’s larger equity, social mobility, and social justice goals.

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