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.

Praise

“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.”
Kirkus Reviews
“[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.”
Publishers Weekly

News and Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Read a review of Won’t Lose This Dream in Publishers Weekly

Books by Andrew Gumbel

Democracy Unchained
How to Rebuild Government for the People

David W. Orr, Andrew Gumbel, Bakari Kitwana, William S. Becker

Down for the Count
Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America

Andrew Gumbel

Won’t Lose This Dream | The New Press

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