Boulder, Colorado — As part of a new nationwide effort, Lumina Foundation for Education has awarded the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) a four-year grant to develop a learning network to support Lumina’s Adult Degree Completion strategy. The network will be made up of regional organizations, state agencies, city programs, nonprofit organizations and others working to help those adults who have earned a significant number of college credits but left postsecondary education before finishing return to complete their degrees.
Thirty-seven million Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 have earned some college credits in their effort toward a degree or credential but, for a variety of reasons, have not successfully completed their higher education. While the U.S. job market once eagerly found places for these workers, the “Great Recession” has destroyed that security, yet future workforce needs will require even more degreed employees.
“There is growing evidence that adults who have gone to college but not received a degree are looking for a second chance but need the right kind of information and motivation to help them succeed,” says Lumina President/CEO Jamie Merisotis. “This vital work aligns directly with our goal to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees or credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Given demographic trends and attainment rates among young adults, it is highly unlikely that the nation can meet its growing need for college-educated workers only by focusing on recent high school graduates.”
Commitment Focuses on Creating a Learning Network to Share Successful Strategies
Specifically, the network will serve as a mechanism for effective networking, communication, and dissemination of information about successful adult degree completion strategies. It will include an interactive Website; meetings/conferences; Webinars to highlight effective strategies for serving adults; policy briefs and reports on lessons learned; a repository of higher education policies related to adult learners; a listserv to expedite network communications; presentations at regional and national meetings; the use of social and communications media to engage grantees and other stakeholders in relevant discussions; and other activities to be determined once the network is operational.
“With many exciting programs now serving this population, there is a great need to disseminate innovative new strategies and ideas, particularly ideas for which there is evidence of success,” says WICHE President David Longanecker. “As we begin to look toward a recovery from the recession, the need to serve this population is greater than ever before. WICHE is looking forward to providing the forum in which these ideas are shared nationwide.”
WICHE’s grant is one of 19 announced today by Lumina. The new network will include these grantees, plus other states and organizations actively involved in this area, including five states (Arkansas, Colorado, Nevada, North Dakota, and South Dakota) that previously worked closely with WICHE in its related effort, Non-Traditional No More: Policy Solutions for Adult Learners. Abstracts of all 19 grants are available at www.luminafoundation.org.