Financing Postsecondary Success

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Most city policy and thought leaders can agree on the importance of increasing postsecondary credentialing rates, in the context of broader economic, workforce, and talent development strategies.  Many cities are knocking on NLC’s door asking, “how to?” Strive’s Collective Impact approach is spreading, and typically embraces postsecondary success goals and indicators.

But, communities are only now learnIng how to finance postsecondary success efforts, and particularly the “backbone” organization that a city needs to convene leaders, collect and analyze data, and support accountability toward agreed goals.

Promising financing approaches, broadly defined, include:

* Seed funding from national, regional, or community foundations to get started, establish infrastructure including staffing. Mayors, intermediary organizations, and community-based organizations could all participate in (coordinated) fundraising.

* In kind support from city planning departments, school district and community college institutional research offices,  and universities for data analysis.

* Federal and other grants to retool: key aspects of college readiness efforts in schools; assessment, remediation, and course sequences in colleges; and career pathways linked to areas of proven job growth.

* Repurposing a portion of the vast philanthropic resources currently devoted to scholarships, to supporting students through to credentials, or to local college success infrastructure.

* Hosting infrastructure (backbone) and leadership by the local Chamber of Commerce or United Way.

* Devoting a slice of mayoral staff time – along with the convening and goal-setting powers of the mayor -to postsecondary success including vital liaison with schools and colleges, as well as coordination with the city’s economic development strategy.

* Tapping significant sources of personal or institutional wealth to endow a “promise” initiative that provides services and supports to students as young as sixth graders, with the promise of college scholarships for those who stay on track.