What if every person who didn’t finish college had the resources to come back and earn a degree?

Why It Matters!


There are 36 million individuals in the United States with some college credit but no degree. We call them the Comebackers. Many stopped out because of a mismatch with the college or university they started attending, difficulties balancing family and life issues with school, finances or debt. Now, they are barred from many jobs with good pay that require a college credential, their children have no role models for college completion at home, and they may still carry the stigma of failure.


By 2020 65% of all jobs will require college education. Time is running out for regions relying solely on a K-12 pipeline, and not all cities are magnets for recent college grads. Comebackers immediately infuse the regional talent shed with their new skills and expertise.


Increasing the number of adults with degrees has a generational multiplier effect: When an adult earns a degree the youth in their household are three times more likely to finish high school, go to college and earn a degree themselves.

Community by community and state by state, The Graduate! Network is leading a growing national movement to increase college completion among adults

Our Vision:

Every adult who aspires to earn a college degree has access to the resources and supports they need to start and complete a college degree

  • Every adult is connected to an individual who knows how to go to and through college.
  • Understanding the value of a degree and knowing how to succeed in college are ubiquitous within all communities, and across socioeconomic groups.
  • Adults have affordable college options at accredited institutions.
  • The practice of investing in adults completing college is mainstream in talent, workforce, and economic development strategies.

Our Mission:

To increase the number of adults completing college, by engaging business, higher education, government, organized labor, workforce and economic development, community building organizations, social service providers, and college graduates to align existing resources, remove barriers, and create new pathways for adults to complete a college degree.

Our Approach:

There are thirty-six million adults in America who could find better jobs, career satisfaction and financial opportunity by completing their postsecondary education. The Graduate! Network has proven that these adults, including those with multiple barriers, can finish what they started and find the path to more fulfilling lives, careers and economic well-being. The Network provides a comprehensive national solution that is delivered locally, combining a proven methodology that enhances and accelerates a community’s assets, technical assistance and peer support.  Focused on the needs and outcomes of Comebackers, our approach is to build awareness among leaders, engage a broad partnership, align policies and practices, and deliver services at scale. New and established communities grow through sharing of experiences and expertise, and the Network continues to provide additional training, benchmarks, new resources, a national knowledge and evidence base, messaging, professional development, and funding opportunities.


We think of the work of The Graduate! Network as a structure that supports and aligns actions at many levels: nationally, locally, and individuals within these partnerships and organizations. A commonality for all levels of this structure are the four Pillars that support and organize our work.


Support adults with research-based educational programs, services and academic practices that increase college completion.


Strengthen partnerships to influence policies and practices within and between sectors, particularly higher education, employers and communities, in and across regions as well as states.


Communicate why it matters for adult students to complete their degrees for civic, economic, and personal benefits, and how talent strategies can achieve goals through adult college completion. 


As a national consortium of support for adult college success, align and invest in research and design of sustainable and scalable business and funding models that can be duplicated across communities.

Funding for our programs is provided by: