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Metro Newsroom


Count Me In! Hits Major Milestone

Wednesday June 12, 2013

Over 10,000 degrees pledged by nearly 2,000
businesses, groups and individuals

One year after Mayor Greg Fischer and the 55,000 Degrees leadership launched the Count Me In! campaign, the “55K” movement has hit a major milestone with over 10,000 degrees pledged. This type of community engagement will help ensure Louisville will reach its ambitious goal of an additional 55,000 college degrees by 2020.

Over 1,900 businesses, groups, churches and individuals have already signed up to become part of the 55,000 Degrees initiative. Today, Mayor Fischer and 55,000 Degrees Executive Director Mary Gwen Wheeler handed out Count Me In! signs to some of the trailblazers that have made the pledge at one of the largest supporters, Norton Healthcare.

“This level of communitywide engagement is critical to ensuring that we reach our community goal over the next seven years,” Fischer said. “So, I’m renewing the call for businesses, community groups and individuals to join our effort and make a Count Me In pledge.”

Norton has committed to help 1,500 employees earn their degrees. “Norton Healthcare is a strong believer in the value of education at all levels,” said Al Cornish, System Vice President, Norton University. “That’s why we support the mayor’s initiative to generate more individuals with college degrees. The result is a more innovative workforce, which is good for our organization and for Louisville.”

Family Scholar House, which provides housing to single parents pursuing a college degree, made the very first pledge, promising to support over 350 adults getting a college degree by 2020. “Count Us In! to help Louisville reach this ambitious goal,” said Dr. Brian McAdams, the Academic Services Coordinator at Family Scholar House.

Coke Memorial United Methodist Church was one of the first faith-based organizations to take the Count Me In! pledge as a part of the 15K Degrees Initiative, a partnership that has committed to ensuring 15,000 of the 55,000 additional college graduates will be African American. Rev. Kathy Ogletree Goodwin, the pastor at Coke Memorial, is co-chair of the Faith Action Team, a coalition of over 80 churches spreading the college-going message and resources through their congregations.

Greater Louisville, Inc.’s Degrees At Work, a key partner in the 55,000 Degrees movement, is spearheading efforts to add 15,000 more college graduates by 2020 from the adult workforce in Louisville. More than 40 employers have become members of Degrees At Work, providing additional educational support to their employees to help them earn their degrees.

Resources include tuition reimbursement, flexible work schedules, peer mentoring and other support. One of the greatest benefits to employees is having an employer who’s willing to invest in their future, a source of greater confidence and job security.

Mayor Fischer also announced plans to redouble outreach efforts to encourage more businesses to make Count Me In! pledges. Fischer plans to devote time each month to make personal visits to employers to encourage Degrees At Work and Count Me In! commitments.

Organizations making a pledge receive a Count Me In! sign to reflect their commitment to the education of the community. You can pledge online at www.55000degrees.org.