GREENSBORO, N.C.  – Lumina Foundation today (Dec. 4) announced that Greensboro, N.C., will be among the first 20 cities in America to partner with Lumina in a mobilization effort designed to increase the number of local residents with postsecondary credentials. This collaborative effort will establish a community-wide attainment goal for Greensboro, High Point and all of Guilford County and support Guilford County partners in achieving that goal.  Partners will have access to significant technical and planning assistance, data tools, flexible funding and guidance from a network of national thought leaders. 

Greensboro’s project, Degrees Matter! , is a shared partnership of The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, United Way of Greater Greensboro and Opportunity Greensboro. “We are incredibly excited to be one of 20 pilot metro partners among Lumina Foundation’s Community Partnership for Attainment.  Economic development is about more than physical resources but also about the brain power of our city, county and region,” said Steve Moore of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who has helped launch Degrees Matter! 

The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro will serve as the fiscal agent for the initiative, having dedicated significant in-kind and financial resources. 

“It is our belief that working across boundaries will position Guilford County as a national leader in developing a talented and highly educated workforce,” said the Rev. Odell Cleveland, chief operating officer at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, board member of The Community Foundation and chair of the project advisory board.

“Educated talent thrives in Greensboro with seven higher-education institutions and a strong business collegiate partnership.  We welcome joining with Lumina in increasing the percentage of our population with degrees as we embrace the opportunities of a knowledge based economy,” said Ed Kitchen, chief operating officer of the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation of Greater Greensboro and co-chair of Opportunity Greensboro.

Greensboro was selected to join in this mobilization effort because of the work that Degrees Matter!  is doing to improve postsecondary attainment rates. Through this effort, Greensboro will amplify existing momentum by partnering with Lumina – as well as other national and local groups – to develop an action plan to increase the percentage of local residents with high quality certificates, associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees.  

Degrees Matter! was fostered as a community collaborative of UNCG’s Undergraduate Studies and the year-long Greensboro Works Task Force.  The program connects lifelong learning to a thriving economy, across Guilford County. Local partners are building a movement to raise awareness of the importance of college degree completion and lifelong learning, especially for adults who already have some college experience; to promote, expand and improve services that support college completion for working adults, and to influence policies that promote college re-engagement and completion for all age groups but particularly for working-age adults.

“When we make education a priority, we strengthen our entire community,” said Michelle Gethers-Clark, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Greensboro. “United Way is committed to a strong Greensboro. We work in collaboration with our community partners to build pathways to education to propel economic success for families and communities.  We are grateful for partnerships like UNCG and Lumina.”

“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 Greensboro and beyond the tools they need to be successful.”

Through the initiative, Greensboro 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 and the overall effort as it 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 Greensboro 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 Greensboro and the other 19 cities already have 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, the strategy director at Lumina Foundation heading up this work.

The national thought-leadership organizations that Greensboro officials will have access to through this initiative include: American Chamber of Commerce Executives, Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, Brookings Institution, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, DCA, Inc., Excelencia in Education, The Harwood Institute, Institute for Higher Education Policy, National League of Cities, OMG Center, Say Yes to Education Foundation, Strive Together, Talent Dividend and United Way Worldwide.

The other cities joining Greensboro, N.C.,  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.;  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.; South Seattle, Wash., and Syracuse, N.Y.

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About Lumina Foundation: Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025. For more information, log on to:  www.luminafoundation.org

Media contacts:

Camy Sorge / DegreesMatter! / 336.334.5324 / crsorge@uncg.edu

Lucia Anderson Weathers / Lumina Foundation / 317.951.5316  / landerson@luminafoundation.org