Won't Lose This Dream: How an Upstart Urban University Rewrote the Rules of a Broken System
The extraordinary story of how Georgia State University tore up the rulebook for educating lower-income students
"Georgia State . . . has been reimagined--amid a moral awakening and a raft of data-driven experimentation--as one of the South's more innovative engines of social mobility."
--The New York Times
Once just another unglamorous urban university, Georgia State University has become a place of miracles and wonders in the heart of Atlanta, the city that spawned the civil rights movement. GSU is a living experiment in the education of lower income students and a crucible in which the promise of social advancement through talent and hard work, the essence of the American Dream, is being rekindled in an age of deep inequality and political crisis.
More than any other institution in the country, Georgia State has overturned the assumption that poorer students are doomed to fail. Won't Lose This Dream describes how the architects of Georgia State's success harnessed the power of evolving data technologies, a "moneyball" strategy that helped them recognize and remove the obstacles that have held poor students back. Veteran journalist Andrew Gumbel uncovers the human stories behind these innovations, tracing real students as they realize lifelong dreams of graduating from college.
Today, a Georgia State freshman who arrives homeless and hungry is no less likely to succeed than the daughter of a billionaire. African American, Hispanic, and low-income students now graduate from GSU at rates equal to or higher than those of other students. In fact, GSU has raised its graduation rate to 55 percent in 2018 from 32 percent in 2003 and, since 2014, has awarded more bachelor's degrees to African Americans than any other nonprofit college or university in the country. More than just a story about higher education, Won't Lose This Dream is a tale that points the way to wholesale societal transformation.
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About the Author
Andrew Gumbel is a British-born journalist, based in Los Angeles, who has won awards for his work as an investigative reporter, a political columnist, and a feature writer. For more than twenty years he worked as a foreign correspondent for Reuters and the British newspapers The Guardian and The Independent, covering stories in Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. He covered the first democratic elections in East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall and has frequently reported on contested or suspect elections since in Bosnia, Serbia, Albania, Haiti, and, since 2000, in the United States. He is the author of Down for the Count and the co-editor (with David W. Orr, William S. Becker, and Bakari Kitwana) of Democracy Unchained, both from The New Press, and the author of Oklahoma City.
"Drawing on extensive on-the-ground reporting, Gumbel offers a richly detailed narrative. . . . Required reading for education reformers seeking to broaden community connections and benefit minority constituencies."
"[Gumbel] poignantly profiles the minority, low-income, and first-generation college students who form the bulk of Georgia State's student body. . . . Accessible and inspirational, this enthusiastic account lays out a persuasive vision for reform. Educators and policy makers should consider it a must-read."
"Gumbel relies on clear analysis and rich anecdotes to explain how one school helped its students thrive. A superb work for anyone interested in higher education."
--Library Journal (starred review)