Common App and Reach Higher to Join ‘Hack the Gates’ Convening to Radically Reimagine College Admissions

Share Article

Meeting to be a catalyst for transforming the college admissions process and creating policy and research to move ideas forward

News Image

Today, ACCEPT and the RISE Center are announcing that Common App, the non-profit membership organization dedicated to access, equity and integrity in the college admissions process, will join in support of the upcoming ‘Hack the Gates’ convening, a two-day event where participants will engage in facilitated dialogues to generate ideas and propose possible systemic transformations to increase racial and economic equity in college access.

Hack the Gates: Radically Reimagine Admissions is a collaboration between Admissions Community Cultivating Equity & Peace Today (ACCEPT) and The Race and Intersectional Studies in Education Equity Center (RISE Center) of Colorado State University, with support from the Joyce Foundation. The event is part of a larger series of conversations that will take place over the next year among college admissions stakeholders about the roles they play as gatekeepers to opportunity, perpetrators of race and class inequities, and transformative leaders in designing equitable college access and enrollment processes.

“We are thrilled to support ACCEPT and the RISE Center and in this effort to reimagine the college admissions process,” said Jenny Rickard, President and CEO of Common App. “As the higher education industry grapples to reestablish trust in the college admissions process, it's clear that there's a growing desire to collaborate on a new set of practices that will forge a new future for college admissions. Convening key stakeholders for this event is an important step in addressing these challenges, and proposing actionable solutions.”

As supporting partners, members of the Common App team, including Reach Higher, the college access initiative started by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time in the White House, will engage in fostering a dialogue between key stakeholders in the college admissions process, including K-12 educators, college counselors, community-based organizations, college admissions professionals, policymakers, and others, to brainstorm ideas for overcoming the systemic and logistical barriers preventing students from accessing college opportunity.

“We’re looking forward to participating in ‘Hack the Gates’ with ACCEPT and the RISE Center to engage in honest conversations about tearing down barriers to college access for all students,” said Eric Waldo, Executive Director or Reach Higher and Vice President of Access and Equity at Common App. “As an organization dedicated to building a college-going culture, especially for first-generation and low-income students, we hope these types of convenings will help change the admissions landscape, and enable us to identify and scale best practices for supporting students.”

The convening will include a series of design-thinking brainstorming sessions to identify solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing students today as they navigate the college admission process. Based on the discussions, ideas, and discoveries that will be uncovered during the convening, a team of academic researchers will draft reports that draw from research, evidence, and dialogues to identify key systemic barriers to college access for low-income students and students of color, and explore possible solutions. These policy briefs will present and consider systemic changes and solutions to improve college access for low-income students and students of color, with the goal of creating real-world change in college admissions systems.

“It’s very exciting to have the support of Common App and Reach Higher who have influence to lead changes in admissions that can advance racial and class equity in college access,” said OiYan Poon, associate professor of higher education leadership in the School of Education and director of the Race and Intersectional Studies for Education Equity (RISE) Center. “I feel very confident that the Hack the Gates project will change how admissions is done, because of the participation of key partners like Common App and Reach Higher.”

For more information and how to participate, please visit

About Common App

Common App is a not-for-profit member organization committed to the pursuit of access, equity, and integrity in the college admission process. Each year, more than one million students, one-third of whom are first-generation, apply to college through the Common App’s online application. In January 2019, the Common App united with Reach Higher, the college access and success campaign started by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time at the White House. Its core programming, including Better Make Room, UpNext, College Signing Day, Beating the Odds, school counselor support, and current grants continues as part of the Common App’s work with its member institutions, school counselors, and students. Founded in 1975, Common App serves nearly 900 member colleges and universities worldwide.

To learn more, visit, and follow @CommonApp and #CommonApp on social media.

About Admissions Community Cultivating Equity & Peace Today (ACCEPT)

ACCEPT empowers college admissions professionals who seek to center anti-racism, equity and justice in our work and communities. As educational gatekeepers, college admissions professionals hold the most responsibility in removing barriers to post-secondary education; everyone in this work has a role to play. ACCEPT, a grassroots community of 5500+ college admissions professionals, actively removes those barriers. Through collaboration, advocacy, and action, ACCEPT leads the way increating an equitable, just, and anti-racist path to post-secondary education.

About Race and Intersectional Studies in Educational Equity (RISE Center)

The RISE Center brings together researchers, practitioners, community members, and other educational stakeholders interested in advancing community-engaged research to transform practices, pedagogies, policies, and leadership for racial justice and equity in PK-12 and postsecondary educational institutions. Through strategic partnerships with practitioners and policymakers, RISE amplifies and applies publicly-engaged research in issues of national conversation. We engage directly with dynamically evolving issues in order to shape dialogues and help bring us toward more equitable resolutions.

Media Contact: Marie Bigham

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Emma Crisci
Visit website