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LEADING QUESTIONS: Education guru's back-to-school advice

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Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of  “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” where  IBJ sits down with central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about their industry and the habits that lead to success.

Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for Education, knows firsthand the sacrifices and hard work necessary for some working-class families to send their children to college. His mother went back to work to help send Merisotis and his three siblings to school. Attending Bates College in Maine, Merisotis cobbled together a mix of grants, scholarships, student loans and part-time jobs (including delivering newspapers at 4 a.m.) to finance his education.

"It wasn't easy," said Merisotis, 46. "And the challenge for paying for college has gotten worse instead of better."

The goal of Lumina Foundation is to increase the percentage of Americans receiving high-quality degrees and credentials from 40 percent to 60 percent in the next 15 years. Rather than give money directly to students, the foundation uses proceeds from its $1.1 billion endowment to help fund education programs that further its goal, to encourage effective public policy, and to build public support for change. In the video below, Merisotis describes how an early work experience ignited his passion for helping more students enroll and graduate from college, and provides advice for keeping students engaged once they arrive on campus.



Like those of many private foundations, Lumina's endowment took a major hit during the recession, dropping from a recent high of $1.4 billion to as low as $900 million. Despite the decrease and subsequent cost-cutting measures, Lumina avoided laying off any of its 40-some staff members. In the video below, Merisotis describes why maintaining human capital was the group's top priority.



 

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  • Thanks
    Thanks, Mason, for delivering my favorite portion of the IBJ webpage! Another inspiring leader we can all learn from.

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  1. Those of you yelling to deport them all should at least understand that the law allows minors (if not from a bordering country) to argue for asylum. If you don't like the law, you can petition Congress to change it. But you can't blindly scream that they all need to be deported now, unless you want your government to just decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.

  2. 52,000 children in a country with a population of nearly 300 million is decimal dust or a nano-amount of people that can be easily absorbed. In addition, the flow of children from central American countries is decreasing. BL - the country can easily absorb these children while at the same time trying to discourage more children from coming. There is tension between economic concerns and the values of Judeo-Christian believers. But, I cannot see how the economic argument can stand up against the values of the believers, which most people in this country espouse (but perhaps don't practice). The Governor, who is an alleged religious man and a family man, seems to favor the economic argument; I do not see how his position is tenable under the circumstances. Yes, this is a complicated situation made worse by politics but....these are helpless children without parents and many want to simply "ship" them back to who knows where. Where are our Hoosier hearts? I thought the term Hoosier was synonymous with hospitable.

  3. Illegal aliens. Not undocumented workers (too young anyway). I note that this article never uses the word illegal and calls them immigrants. Being married to a naturalized citizen, these people are criminals and need to be deported as soon as humanly possible. The border needs to be closed NOW.

  4. Send them back NOW.

  5. deport now

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