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Metro Newsroom

Community Leaders, Mayor Commit To Adding 55,000 College Degrees

Thursday May 13, 2010

Goal is to create seamless pathway for higher education in Louisville region

See the full "Education Commitment" click here

Louisville’s economy cannot leap forward until the city significantly increases the number of residents with college degrees, Mayor Jerry Abramson said today as he launched a long-term, targeted plan to raise education levels in the region.

Abramson was joined by college presidents and education and business leaders from Louisville and Southern Indiana in laying out the vision for having half of adults in the region with college degrees by 2020.

They signed a three-page Education Commitment that, among other things, calls for adding 40,000 more people with bachelor’s and 15,000 with associate’s degrees during the next decade.

“The Louisville region has a great quality of life — but that is not enough. If we are to compete in the future, we need to have a highly-educated workforce for 21st Century knowledge jobs,” Abramson said. “Unless we place a strong value on a higher education, we will stagnate.”

The Commitment is the result of a year-long process in which Abramson called together the superintendents of Jefferson County Public and Catholic schools and the presidents of all major colleges in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

They met in private retreats to frankly discuss the problems with education attainment in the region – including issues that often frustrate students, including financial aid and transferring credits from one college to another — and to map out a plan for solving those issues.

The result is the Community Education Commitment that calls for strategies such as:

· Creating a “college-going culture” that would include media campaigns and advocates to push students and adults to higher educations;

· Creating a community of education-oriented employers who encourage their employees to return to school, and offer students work experiences;

· Ensuring that students are prepared for college and that they stay enrolled;

· Making college affordable with scholarships, employer-paid tuition and more effective information about financial aid;

· Ensuring that students seamlessly transfer from one college to another, and persist from one year to the next.

Abramson said the Commitment will be implemented by creating an office — with an executive director and staff — that will oversee the efforts. It will be independent of government and be funded with donations and by local foundations. The goal is to have the office and staff in place in fall.

“This will ensure that, even past my administration and future mayors, the Commitment will remain and thrive,” Abramson said.