SOUTH SEATTLE/SOUTH KING COUNTY – Today Lumina Foundation announced that the Road Map Project region – South Seattle and South King County – will be among the first 20 metro areas in America to partner with Lumina Foundation in a mobilization effort designed to increase the number of local residents with postsecondary credentials. This collaborative effort will help the region accelerate progress toward the Road Map Project’s region-wide attainment goal for students attending school in South Seattle and South King County. Lumina will provide access to significant technical and planning assistance, data tools, flexible funding and guidance from a network of national thought leaders.

The Road Map Project is a community-wide effort aimed at dramatically improving student achievement from cradle to college and career in South King County and South Seattle, the county’s areas of greatest need. The project’s goal is to double the number of students in the region who are on track to graduate from college or earn a career credential by 2020, and to close opportunity gaps.

In our region, there are tremendous efforts under way focusing on postsecondary attainment involving numerous school, college and nonprofit partners, all of which worked together to create the Road Map Project’s initial High School to College Completion Action Plan. An example of the regional effort is the Road Map to College, an annual campaign of events in Seattle and South King County designed to help students navigate the college enrollment process. The “Stay Strong” component of the Road Map District Consortium’s Race to the Top grant also has a big focus on postsecondary success, and allocates investments aimed at strengthening the middle and high school guidance functions and improving high school course options. All this work— and much more — is needed if the region is to help more students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college or career training.

“Our region is honored and excited to have the opportunity to work closely with Lumina Foundation,” said Dr. Jill Wakefield, Chancellor of the Seattle Community Colleges and co-founder of the Puget Sound Coalition for College and Career Readiness. “Our goals could not be more aligned. In 2010, we started the Road Map Project in South King County and South Seattle to double the number of students on track to earn a college degree or career credential by 2020. The support from Lumina will help us accelerate our region’s work toward our goal and learn from the best work happening nationally.”

“Research shows a direct correlation between thriving cities and education beyond high school,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of Lumina. “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 leaders in South Seattle and South King County and beyond the tools they need to be successful.”

Through the initiative, the Road Map Project, which is staffed by the Community Center for Education Results, will be eligible for an allocation of $200,000 from Lumina over a three-year period. The allocation will be tied to the achievement of goals. The overall effort connects to Goal 2025, a national goal to increase the percentage of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. The guidance offered to South Seattle and South King County by national partners will be the most crucial part of the movement.

“This partnership model is a landmark opportunity for communities,” said Jeff Edmondson, managing director of Strive Together in Cincinnati. “These cities will have the opportunity to work arm-in-arm with a national thought-leader to identify and build upon what is already working to improve higher education attainment rates in their own backyards.”

Project leaders from South Seattle and South King County and the other 19 cities have already begun to participate in webinars with the national partners to prepare them for the upcoming months of strategic planning. Community representatives and project leaders are currently in Indianapolis for a two-day kick-off convening and workshop being led by Lumina.

“It is our hope that Lumina’s support can fan the flames that are already burning in our partnership cities, improving results there and showing cities across the country how this gets done and just how transformational education can be for communities’ social, economic and civic strength,” said Haley Glover, strategy director at Lumina Foundation heading up this work.

The national thought-leadership organizations that South Seattle and South King County will have access to through this initiative include: American Chamber of Commerce ExecutivesAspen Institute Forum for Community SolutionsBrookings InstitutionCouncil for Adult and Experiential LearningDCA, Inc., Excelencia in EducationThe Harwood InstituteInstitute for Higher Education PolicyNational League of CitiesOMG CenterSay Yes to Education Foundation, Strive Together, Talent Dividend and United Way Worldwide.

The other cities joining South Seattle and South King County in the first cohort of this initiative include: Albuquerque, N.M.; Boston, Mass.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Columbus, Ind.; Dayton, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Greensboro, N.C.; Houston, Texas; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Louisville, Ky.; Memphis, Tenn.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Providence, R.I.; Quad Cities, Iowa/Ill.; San Antonio, Texas; Santa Ana, Calif.; and Syracuse, N.Y.

Posted in: College and Career Success

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