Greensboro Gets Grant to Boost College Degrees

Posted on December 05, 2013

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A national foundation agrees with Greensboro: Degrees do matter.

The Lumina Foundation on Wednesday announced that Greensboro is among its first 20 cities picked for its national initiative to get more Americans to get college degrees.

Lumina will give up to $200,000 to the local Degrees Matter! program over the next three years. Local colleges and foundations hope the program will help adults who quit college go back to school and get their degrees.

“The finish line in our education system can no longer be a high school diploma,” Lumina President Jamie Merisotis told reporters during a conference call. “The new finish line for the majority of Americans has to be a high-quality post-secondary credential — a certificate, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s or beyond.”

The grants are part of Lumina’s Goal 2025 program, which aims to have 60 percent of Americans adults with college degrees within the next 12 years. Nationally, only about 40 percent of those over 25 have a two-year or four-year college degree.

This push comes as a growing number of careers require more knowledge and expertise.

Lumina says employers want college degrees for about two-thirds of all new jobs.

The foundation also points to research that says more-educated cities generally have stronger economies, less unemployment and a better quality of life than less-educated communities.

Local educators noticed similar trends — and a potential market for Guilford County’s six four-year colleges and GTCC. About 40 percent of Guilford County adults have at least a two-year college degree. But about 1 in 5 adults — nearly 67,000 — have taken college courses but dropped out.

Last fall, UNCG and Opportunity Greensboro— the same group leading the Downtown University Campus project — launched Degrees Matter! to help adults finish their college degrees. The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, the United Way of Greater Greensboro and area colleges have since signed on.

Camy Sorge, assistant director of UNCG’s transfer and adult student program, said Degrees Matter! has finished its initial planning. She said the group hopes to have a more formal plan of action — and details on how it might use the grant — by February.

Sorge said the grant isn’t huge, but it’s both a vote of confidence in the nascent program and an investment in the community.
“It’s a little capital to grow this into something bigger,” she said.

The Lumina Foundation, based in Indianapolis, bills itself as the nation’s largest private foundation that focuses on higher education. Lumina wants to pick 50 more cities for this initiative by early 2015.

Cities tapped to be part of the first wave include in Boston, Houston, Memphis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Antonio. In most of these cities, the grants will boost existing public and private projects to boost higher education initiatives.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.
By John Newsom,
Contact John Newsom at (336) 373-7312, and follow @JohnFNewsom on Twitter.

Reposted from the Greensboro News & Record

(Stories also posted at the Lumina Foundation and the Triad Business Journal).


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