Document Type


Publication Date



Education -- Research -- Methodology, Post-Secondary Education -- Studies and reports


In 2018, the State of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) received funding from Lumina Foundation1 through a Talent, Innovation, and Equity (TIE) partnership grant to help reduce educational disparities faced by students of color. A key component of this work included focus group research on adult learners – those aged 25 to 64 years old – around the state. Through this research HECC aims to improve the success rates of underrepresented students in postsecondary education and training (specifically African American, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Oregonians) and make progress toward the State’s Adult Attainment goal. Strategies identified to support these goals include: better understand the barriers faced by students of color in seeking postsecondary education or training; note ways to effectively support their retention and re-entry into postsecondary programs; and document practical messages and strategies to engage these learners.

During 2019, HECC contracted with faculty at Portland State University (PSU) and Southern Oregon University (SOU) to conduct focus groups and interviews with adult learners of color across Oregon. This report includes background information about the project, a description of the research methodology, findings on student of color experiences, and key recommendations for improvement. The report should be of interest to faculty and staff at higher education institutions in Oregon, students, and policy makers interested in higher education.


This report was completed by faculty and staff at Portland State University and Southern Oregon University, with support from HECC.

Persistent Identifier