Heads of state and education advocates launch initiative to increase graduation rates and close equity gaps

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Heads of state and education advocates came together virtually Monday to launch the Kentucky Student Success Collaborative. The collaboration is the first statewide center in the country to connect two- and four-year higher education institutions with political and industry leaders to increase graduation rates, close equity gaps and strengthen workforce preparation.

Funded by a $ 2.1 million grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation, the collaborative project is hosted by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

The collaboration will focus on information sharing, professional development and support for the implementation of best practices. His work is based on evidence that outdated policies and practices significantly contribute to student failure. When supports such as first year success programs and better credit transfer are put in place to address the challenges facing students today, a significant number of struggling students can graduate and enter the labor market.

A team of representatives from statewide institutions and other key stakeholders will help ensure that the collaborative’s projects align with the highest priorities of campus and community partners. One of the priorities identified is to meet the needs of students outside the classroom, which will be at the center of the collective’s first community of practice.

Other support and professional development programs coming in the spring include an online center that will provide access to a community of practice, best practice resources, and new reports and data.

CPE President Aaron Thompson said building this statewide network will create a new level of resource sharing and allow various groups to work in tandem, reducing redundancies and accelerating progress. .

“Kentucky colleges and universities continue to make measurable gains in student success, but this is too big an issue for campuses or individual students to deal with in isolation,” Thompson said. “The situation of Kentucky students in our education system has a direct impact on the economy and our quality of life in all corners of the Commonwealth. We all have a responsibility to support student success in meaningful ways, and this generous donation from the James Graham Brown Foundation gives us the opportunity to do so.

Mason Rummel, President and CEO of the Louisville-based foundation, said she was grateful to educational institutions, policy makers, foundations and education advocates for their willingness to move out of their area. comfort and join forces in a new way.

“As a representative of the foundation that has worked on solutions to various causes over the past decades, I’ve learned one thing: that not much is done in isolation,” said Rummel. “Foundations that make grants have learned that when they come together and focus on a common agenda, the results can be exponentially larger and much more effective. We seem to do best when we learn from each other and share our successes, lessons learned, and thought leadership. The same goes for the partners of this collaborative. We hope that each of the strengths and talents that these institutions bring to this effort will have a great impact on the students we serve and the results in the higher education sector of our state.

In 2015, Kentucky set the 60 × 30 goal, an ambitious effort to increase the percentage of Kentuckians of working age with a high-quality postsecondary diploma or certificate to 60 percent by 2030.

The state remains significantly below the national average for educational attainment, while some form of post-secondary education is increasingly required to be competitive in the labor market. First-generation students, low-income students, underrepresented minorities, and students aged 25 and over continue to graduate from college at significantly lower rates than other Kentucky students.

“Our job is to make sure all Kentuckians have the tools they need to be successful in today’s changing economy. It is one of the most important things we can do for the future of the state, ”said Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman. “There are so many gifted students in Kentucky who are unable to share their talents with their communities and as participants in the workforce due to systemic barriers in their path. “

Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education


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