Today, 35 new U.S. communities were announced in the second cohort of Lumina Foundation’s community-based postsecondary education attainment strategy, including Northwest Indiana. The strategy was designed to help communities and regions dramatically increase the number of local residents with postsecondary credentials. The collaborative effort connects participating cities with significant technical and planning assistance, data tools, flexible funding, and the ability to customize attainment plans that will best suit each community’s needs and the well-being of its residents.
“Research shows a direct correlation between thriving cities and education beyond high school,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and CEO. “Increased attainment delivers stronger local economies, greater individual earning power and better quality of life. Every community in America wants that, and we’ve designed this work to give civic leaders the tools they need to be successful.”
Lumina’s goal for this work is to mobilize all sectors in a community to improve postsecondary attainment. Communities will partner with Lumina and national thought leaders through 2016 to establish attainment goals. Organizations will work with national partners develop an action plan focused on reaching the attainment goal to increase the percentage of high-quality credentials held by community residents.
Progress toward the goal will be measured by credentials earned after high school, including certificates, associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees held by local residents. The cities selected have already demonstrated momentum in advancing attainment agendas, and this effort aims to expand and deepen their work.
“Having READY NWI be selected as a partner by Lumina, to help deliver a message and implement our plan for students moving successfully from high school to post-secondary education to good jobs, is an incredible opportunity for our region,” said Don Babcock, NIPSCO’s Director of Economic Development and a READY NWI Board member.
The overall effort connects to Goal 2025, a national goal to increase the percentage of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. Lumina’s partners in this effort will provide guidance to the cities as they develop goals and action plans. The national thought-leadership organizations that communities will have access to through this work include: the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, the Brookings Institution, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, DCA Inc., Excelencia in Education, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the Michigan College Access Network, the National College Access Network, the National League of Cities, the OMG Center, the Say Yes to Education Foundation, and Strive Together.
“Education is a key component to a skilled workforce and contributes to a strong local economy,” said Dr. Peggy Buffington, Superintendent of the School City of Hobart. “Post-secondary opportunities that increase certification and college completion require partnerships. READY NWI is a group of committed leaders from business, higher education, K-12 education, and the Center of Workforce Innovations who have united in a unique way to align employability skills, assessments, and model programming to indicate when a student is ready for college and careers. We embrace and accept this challenge from Lumina to ensure our youth are ready and prepared for success following high school,” added Buffington.
Paul McGuinness, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Services with Purdue University North Central offered strong support for Lumina’s strategy and the regional plan, noting that “Our partnership between employers and educators is essential for boosting our local economy and creating a better quality of life within our communities. Our regional colleges and universities are committed to increasing college success rates to support our regional growth.”
“It is our intention that Lumina’s support will bolster the great work already being done in our Partnership cities, improving results there and showing cities across the country just how transformational education can be for communities’ social, economic and civic strength,” said Haley Glover, strategy director at Lumina Foundation overseeing this work.
Lumina plans to invest approximately $5.6 million into the second cohort and over $13 million directly to communities over the course of the program. Each community will be eligible for an allocation of $160,000 over a 2.5-year period, which will be tied to achievement of goals.
The second cohort of communities includes: Akron, Ohio; Albany, N.Y.; Austin, Texas; Berkeley, Calif.; Chicago, Ill.; Cleveland, Ohio; Coachella Valley, Calif.; Columbia, S.C.; Corpus Christi, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colo.; Detroit, Mich.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Hartford, Conn.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Kansas City, Mo.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Nashville, Tenn.; New Hampshire Region; New York, N.Y.; Newark, N.J.; Northwest Indiana Region; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Richmond, Va.; Rio Grande Valley Region; Salt Lake City, Utah; Savannah, Ga.; Spokane, Wash.; Southwest Florida Region; Washington, D.C., and Winston-Salem, N.C.