Lessons from the Learner Voice about the Student Success Movement

On April 10, 2023, Nate Simpson, Senior Program Officer of the the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, presented “Lessons from the Learner Voice about the Student Success Movement,” part of our Accelerating Equitable Success spring webinar series. In the webinar, Nate shared findings from an opinion poll research project about learner perceptions of the value of education in the United States, how the learner voice impacted the student success movement, and tips on ways to incorporate findings in ongoing efforts based upon lessons learned from the philanthropy sector.


Nate Simpson, Senior Program Officer, U.S. Programs, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Nate is a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the U.S. Programs, Postsecondary Success and Early Learning & Pathways team. The Postsecondary Success team’s goal is to improve the United States higher education sector to both offer accessible, high-quality, and affordable postsecondary education and provide the necessary support to ensure that students complete their programs of study on time, achieve economic agency over their lives, and eliminate race/income as a predictor of success. Within that team, he oversees a $28M portfolio of funding designed to help educational practitioners focus their improvements around their students’ journeys, especially marginalized student populations. In addition, his portfolio, as a founding member of the Education Pathways strategy team, which gives away $50M a year, is to fund the improvement of High Education institutions’ role within regional employment zones so learners can achieve their economic agency.

Before joining the Foundation, Nate served 15 years in higher education. He led several student success initiatives that spanned the nation, primarily in his hometown of Chicago, IL, and Dallas, TX. His higher education experience was focused on leading student-centered, data-informed, and high-quality student affairs teams ranging from Student Activities, First-Year Experience, and Enrollment Management to Veteran Affairs.

In his most recent position, he led partnerships between a community college and a K-12 school district to establish the only Career and Technical Education Early College High School in the Dallas-Forth Worth area. The school is unique because it allows minoritized student populations to experience a supportive, rigorous program designed to complete their high school diploma and a college credential simultaneously in an in-demand field for their local community with no debt. He has served on the National Society of Collegiate Scholars board, a premier honor society for first-year undergraduate students that provides access to scholarships, leadership, and career development opportunities. Also, as an avid lover of the arts, he sits on the board of the Seattle Reparatory Theater.

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