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Lumina initiative aims to boost college grad ranks

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Twenty communities have been chosen as the first partners in a national initiative aimed at raising the ranks of college graduates.

The Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation on Wednesday promised as much as $200,000 to the recipients over three years, along with technical and planning help and input from a network of "thought leaders."

The private foundation's overall goal is to raise the percentage of Americans with college degrees from 38 percent to 60 percent by 2025.

"There are many national and global experts that have made the point that the success of communities and metropolitan areas is increasingly derived from the educational attainment of the citizens in those communities," Lumina President Jamie Merisotis told reporters during a conference call.

Representatives from each of the communities, meanwhile, were meeting with Lumina partners in Indianapolis to begin drafting goals and plans. Progress will be measured by credentials earned after high school, including certificates, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees.

In the majority of cities, the Lumina support will boost existing public and private college attainment efforts, such as Louisville's 55,000 Degrees program, Albuquerque, N.M.'s Mission Graduate! and Say Yes in Syracuse and Buffalo, which provides college tuition and other supports for city students. Each Lumina partner community has designated a lead agency to help manage the resources.

"It is our hope that Lumina's support can fan the flames that are already burning in our partnership cities, improving results there and showing cities across the country how this gets done and just how transformational education can be for communities' social, economic and civic strength," said Haley Glover, the foundation's strategy director.

The other partner communities are Columbus and Fort Wayne in Indiana; Boston; Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio; Greensboro, N.C.; Houston and San Antonio, Texas; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Memphis, Tenn.; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pa.; Providence, R.I.; Quad Cities, Iowa/Ill.; Santa Ana, Calif. and South Seattle, Wash.

"The bottom line, all of the cities are focused on attainment. They are all achieving their goals through collaboration and they are all addressing equity gaps, whether for racial or ethnic groups, low-income students or other traditionally underserved student populations," Glover said.

The foundation plans to bring on 50 more communities by early 2015, she said.

Participants will have access to numerous education, policy and research organizations, including the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, which will analyze communities' economic drivers and skills gaps, and the National Student Clearinghouse, which will provide baseline data on student enrollment and credential completion.

About two-thirds of jobs being created in the United States require some form of post-secondary credential, Merisotis said, up from 25 percent in the 1970s.

"The finish line can no longer be a high school diploma, it simply isn't sufficient," he said. "The new finish line for a majority of Americans has to be a high quality, post-secondary credential: a certificate, an associate degree, a (Bachelor of Arts) or beyond."

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  1. Now if he'd just stay there...

  2. Daniel - what about the many US citizens who do NOT follow what the Bible teaches? The Hindus, Jews, Muslims and others who are all American citizens entitled to all rights as Americans?? This issue has NOTHING to do with "What the Bible says..." Keep all Churches separate from State! Pence's ongoing idiocy continues to make Indiana look like a backwards, homophobic state in the eyes of our nation. Can't we move on to bigger issues - like educating our kids?

  3. 1. IBJ should link to the referenced report. We are in the age of electronic media...not sharing information is lazy. Here is a link http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Blue_Ribbon_Panel_Report_July_9_2014.pdf 2. The article should provide more clarity about the make-up of this panel. The commenters are making this item out to be partisan, it does not appear the panel is partisan. Here is a list of the panel which appears to be balanced with different SME to add different perspectives http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=138116?formation_id=189603 3. It suggests a by-pass, I do not see where this report suggests another "loop". 4. Henry, based on your kneejerk reaction, we would be better off if you moved to another state unless your post was meant as sarcasm in which case I say Well Done. 5. The article and report actually indicates need to improve rail and port infrastructure in direct contradiction to Shayla commentary. Specifically, recommendation is to consider passenger rail projects... 6. People have a voice with their elected officials. These are suggestions and do not represent "crony capitalism", etc. The report needs to be analyzed and the legislature can decide on priorities and spending. Don't like it, then vote in a new legislature but quit artificially creating issues where there are none! People need to sift through the politics and provide constructive criticism to the process rather than making uninformed comments in a public forum based on misinformation. IBJ should work harder to correct the record in these forums when blatant errors or misrepresentations are made.

  4. Joe ... Marriage is defined in the Bible ... it is mentioned in the Bible often. Marriage is not mentioned once in the US or Indiana Constitution ...

  5. Daniel - Educate me please: what does the Bible have to do with laws? If the government wasn't in the business of marriage to begin with, then it wouldn't have to "define" marriage at all. Marriage could be left as a personal, religious, or otherwise unregulated action, with no ties to taxes, legal status, etc. Then people could marry whomever they want, and all this silliness would go away. Remember to vote Libertarian in November.

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