55,000 Degrees: The ultimate display of brain and brawn
In May, 2010, a public-private partnership was formed to increase the number of Louisville residents with college degrees. Not only did it bring all the community’s major players to the table — including the business community through GLI and the city through Metro Government — it involved primary, secondary, and post-secondary education leaders from public and private schools too.
Its aim? To increase the number of people with bachelor’s degrees by 40,000 and the number with associate degrees by 15,000. (So if you studied math, logic, and rhetoric, you’ll appreciate why the program is titled “55,000 Degrees.”)
As deep as a Doctor of Philosophy and as diverse as a 400-level course on Multicultural Cat-Herding
55,000 Degrees has a clear and compelling agenda — to increase education attainment, prosperity, and the quality of life — but it draws its necessity and support from a broad spectrum of needs, goals, and criteria:
- To attract new and develop local business, we need to provide access to a readily available pool of educated, talented, and capable workers.
- People with college degrees make considerably more than those with high school diplomas. The U.S. Census Bureau puts the average lifetime earnings of a person with a bachelor’s degree at $2.7 million compared to just $1.5 million for someone with a high school diploma.
- More college graduates translates into more community wealth through more tax revenues, retail purchases, and contributions to charities.
- So far over $1 million has been raised from local foundations over the start-up three years, including support from the James Graham Brown Foundation, the Humana Foundation, the C.E.&S Foundation, the Community Foundation of Louisville, and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.
- In addition, one partner, Greater Louisville Inc, recently received an $800,000 grant from the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation to address one of the key objectives of the partnership — which is to support businesses helping working-age adults finish their degrees.
To learn more about this important community initiative, you can go to www.55000degrees.com; or, if you’re the sort of student who’d rather read the Cliff Notes, you can watch the video above.