About Us

The College Promise Project (CPP) is a collaborative initiative between WestEd, the University of Pennsylvania’s Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD), and the College Promise Campaign.

What We Do

  • Consult with College Promise programs on program design, implementation, research, evaluation, and data use for continuous improvement
  • Research, document, and compile data on Promise program features to create resource guides and conduct descriptive analyses
  • Design and host convenings and trainings
  • Conduct evaluation and research

Read more about the work that the CPP supports in this Forbes article from CPP Co-Director, Dr. Mary Rauner.

Who We Are




Mary Rauner, PhD

Senior Research Associate, WestEd

Dr. Mary Rauner is a Senior Research Associate at WestEd. Her portfolio of work focuses on interventions that improve postsecondary access, persistence, and completion for low- and middle-income students. Rauner has been researching and consulting with College Promise programs in California and across the nation since 2015 and is a member of the California College Promise Leadership Team. Rauner has 20 years of research, evaluation, strategic planning, and teaching/coaching experience in a wide range of organizational settings including local and federal government, and the nonprofit, academic and private sector. She holds an MA in Sociology, an MA in International Educational Development, and a PhD in Education from Stanford University.

Laura Perna, PhD

Faculty, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Laura W. Perna is a James S. Riepe Professor and founding Executive Director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research examines the ways that social structures, educational practices, and public policies promote and limit college access and success, particularly for individuals from lower-income families and racial/ethnic minority groups

Dr. Perna holds Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, and earned her Master’s in Public Policy and PhD in Education from the University of Michigan.

Martha Kanter

Executive Director & Advisory Board Member, College Promise Campaign

Martha J. Kanter leads the College Promise Campaign, working with communities and states to fund community college tuition and fees for students to complete their degrees and certificates. She is also a Senior Fellow at New York University. In 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Ms. Kanter to serve as the U.S. Under Secretary of Education, with oversight responsibility for all federal postsecondary statutory, regulatory, and administrative policies and programs for the U.S. Department of Education.  Ms. Kanter holds a BA degree in Sociology from Brandeis University, an MEd from Harvard University and an EdD from the University of San Francisco.


Thomas Torre Gibney


Elaine Leigh

University of Pennsylvania

Cameron Sublett


Amelia Smith


Edward Smith

University of Pennsylvania

Raifu Durodoye


Sara Lundquist


Jeremy Wright

University of Pennsylvania

The CCPP is housed at WestEd, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research, development, and service agency that works with education and other communities throughout the United States and abroad to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning for children, youth, and adults.