The Lumina Foundation in Indianapolis has announced grants totaling almost $4 million to five states for efforts to address talent development among the underserved adult student population.
In partnership with State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO), Lumina's Adult Promise program will provide multiyear grants to Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Washington in support of efforts to engage adults from underserved populations in higher education. The program will build on Lumina-supported efforts by SHEEO and the Education Commission of the States to design a model program for states interested in targeting adult students for tuition-free college (or "promise programs"), sharing nonpartisan research on such targeted outreach, and raising overall awareness about Adult Promise models.
With funding from Lumina, the participating states will focus more of their outreach efforts on underserved adults; create online tools to help address their non-financial needs; outline strategies for addressing disparities in educational outcomes by race and ethnicity; offer guided pathways designed to improve completion rates; and publicly track, share, and evaluate the effectiveness of these efforts.
According to Lumina, labor market data show that adults without a college degree, workforce certificate, or other quality credential are likely to struggle. And while nearly 40 percent of today's college students are older than 25, many are eligible for federal and state assistance, including financial aid that can be enough to cover their tuition and fees at community colleges.
"Adult students are so critical to developing the talent our country needs," said Jesse O'Connell, Lumina's deputy director for finance and federal policy. "We want to help these states explore ways to find and talk with adults about affordable education options. We also are helping states address financial and other barriers to adults pursuing education after high school."
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