The Lumina Foundation has announced a first cohort of twenty communities selected to participate in an initiative to increase the number of local residents who hold postsecondary credentials.
The initiative will provide participating cities with technical and planning assistance, data tools, flexible funding, and access to a national network of thought leaders to establish goals for boosting educational attainment beyond high school and develop an action plan to that end. Each community will be eligible for a grant of up to $200,000 over three years that will be tied to the achievement of goals. Progress toward individual city goals will be based on the number of postsecondary credentials — including certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees — held by residents.
The first cohort of communities includes Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boston, Massachusetts; Buffalo and Syracuse, New York; Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio; Columbus and Fort Wayne, Indiana; Greensboro, North Carolina; Houston and San Antonio, Texas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; the Quad Cities area of Iowa and Illinois; Santa Ana, California; and South Seattle/South King County, Washington.
Organizations providing guidance through the thought leadership network include the American Chamber of Commerce Executives the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, the Brookings Institution, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, DCA, Inc., Excelencia in Education, the Harwood Institute, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the National College Access Network, the National League of Cities, the OMG Center, the Say Yes to Education Foundation, Strive Together, Talent Dividend, and United Way Worldwide.
"Research shows a direct correlation between thriving cities and education beyond high school," said Lumina Foundation president and CEO Jamie Merisotis. "Increased attainment delivers stronger local economies, greater individual earning power, and better quality of life. Every community in America wants that, and we've designed this work to give civic leaders the tools they need to be successful."