NOVA, Mason Selected to Participate in Equity Transfer Initiative

February 2, 2021

Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University were selected to participate in the Equity Transfer Initiative (ETI) led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). NOVA and Mason, the only Virginia partnership named in the award, will work together with a focus on helping to increase transfer rates for Hispanic/LatinX students.

Altogether, 16 partnerships, nationwide, were selected. These partnerships primarily consist of one community college and one four-year institution—although several partnerships consist of a consortium of institutions collaborating together.

By participating in this initiative, partnerships may be awarded up to $27,500 in grant funding. The grants are provided by ECMC Foundation and Ascendium Education Group.

The purpose of the grant is to improve enrollment of students from underserved populations and to increase the likelihood of transfer and baccalaureate degree completion. In order to achieve this goal, partnerships are asked to develop transfer pathways to programs in high-demand areas that are important to this region and lead to family-sustaining wages.

“Our strategy will involve a multi-pronged approach to recruiting, supporting, and guiding students through the transfer process,” said Jennifer Nelson, NOVA’s Chief Transfer Officer. “We will make sure they are informed about what will be required at Mason to get in, get through, and get a great job that will support their family and benefit the region. We will take a holistic approach, supporting them beyond academics, to ensure they are as successful as possible. What we learn from this work will help us provide better services to all of our transfer students at NOVA.”

The AACC will assign a coach to provide guidance for and oversight of the work completed by the partner institutions. The coach will also provide technical assistance and host conferences to help partner institutions learn from each other.

“NOVA is committed to achieving equity in student success, including in connecting our students to effective and equitable transfer pathways,” said Anne M. Kress, NOVA’s President. “We are grateful to AACC and AASCU for their support of community college/university partnerships, such as the NOVA/GMU ADVANCE program, that support equity in transfer opportunity. We look forward to strengthening ADVANCE even more by learning from peer colleges and national best practices.”

NOVA and Mason have enjoyed a long-standing partnership in assisting students with navigating the transfer process to complete their baccalaureate degrees. Most recently, ADVANCE: a NOVA-Mason Partnership has proved extremely successful in streamlining the transfer experience for students by providing clearly defined curricular pathways, access to a dedicated Success Coach, and collaborative support services.

For details on ETI, visit or contact NOVA’s program leads Jennifer Nelson,, or Barbara Hopkins,

NOVA Media Contact: Hoang Nguyen,

Topics: press release