Lumina Foundation Lumina is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college. In fact, we are the nation's largest foundation dedicated exclusively to increasing students' access to and success in postsecondary education. Our mission is defined by Goal 2025-to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:27:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Still Searching: Job Vacancies and STEM Skills Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:27:57 +0000 matthew More »]]> report from Brookings Institution finds that skills common to STEM occupations are in short supply relative to demand. Meanwhile, job seekers possessing neither STEM knowledge nor higher education face stiff competition for a scarce number of jobs, the report says.]]> 0 What Is the Real Cost of College in California? Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:27:54 +0000 matthew More »]]> report from the Campaign for College Opportunity. Both reports call for reducing the number of years it takes for students to earn a degree to decrease costs and increase capacity at California’s public college and universities.]]> 0 A Cure for Remedial Reporting Chaos Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:27:52 +0000 matthew More »]]> report from the Education Commission of the States analyzes how states identify, track, and report the number of students referred to remedial instruction in postsecondary school. Among the report’s conclusions: A lack of consistency exists across states on how remediation is measured and reported.]]> 0 Common Core Goes to College Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:27:51 +0000 matthew More »]]> policy brief from the New America Foundation urges colleges and universities to enhance their support of the Common Core State Standards and collaborate more closely with public schools to determine what it means to be “college ready.” According to the report, colleges have not adjusted their admissions, financial aid, remedial education, and teacher preparation policies to effectively align with the standards.]]> 0 Pathways to Prosperity Network: A State Progress Report Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:27:51 +0000 matthew More »]]> report from Jobs for the Future identifies eight such states and their work in the Pathways to Prosperity Network to assist more youth in completing high school, attaining a postsecondary credential with labor market value, and getting launched in high-demand careers.]]> 0 Some College, No Degree Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:27:32 +0000 matthew More »]]> study from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The report goes on to say that 4 million “potential completers,” mostly under the age of 30, finished at least two years’ worth of work and could be easily recruited and encouraged to graduate.]]> 0 Focus Summer 2014 | College-bound communities Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:15:45 +0000 matthew More »]]> More »]]> 0 The Starbucks model for tuition reimbursement Wed, 16 Jul 2014 20:34:34 +0000 matthew More »]]> The percentage of Americans who have a two-year or four-year college degree is now 39.4 percent — the highest in the nation’s history, but a far cry from where the nation needs to be given the increasing global demand for people with postsecondary education credentials.  Indeed, the U.S. now ranks 11th in the world in postsecondary attainment, with countries like Korea, Canada and Japan experiencing rates well above 50 percent.  The dynamic global economy is fueling an ever-increasing demand for skills and talent, and most countries around the world are responding to this demand by increasing the higher education attainment of their people.  

In the U.S., there have been modest but steady increases in enrollment.  Yet only about half all students actually complete their studies.  One in five U.S. adults has some college credits but never obtained a degree.  

For too many, life — whether family obligations, job pressures or their personal financial circumstances – gets in the way. According to a 2009 Public Agenda study, 31 percent of 22- to 30-year-old college dropouts said they dropped out because they could no longer afford it.

This is particularly true for the large numbers of low-income, minority teenagers, who make up the nation’s fastest growing population groups — and therefore its richest pool of future talent.

Government has an important role to play in increasing the nation’s supply of talent.  But so, too, does the private sector.  Tuition reimbursement is one mechanism for employers to do their part, and is fairly common at large corporations. Employers from Apple to WalMart now offer some form of tuition aid for employees, in differing amounts. But focusing on a group that has already demonstrated the desire to attain a college education and the advances it can offer might prove particularly successful.

One corporation has now devised a plan that focuses on workers who have started a college degree at some point, but never finished. And this could offer a template that other businesses might follow.

Starbucks recently announced that it will cover full tuition in 40 different programs for employees studying at Arizona State University, whose online degree program is ranked in the top 10 by US News and World Report.  This new program offers counseling and coaching support, to help students navigate through the learning process.  

Employees also don’t have to pay Starbucks back if they leave.

Strategies like the one being launched by Starbucks acknowledge that demand for talent is rising rapidly across the nation. Projections by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce indicate that two-thirds of all jobs in the United States will require postsecondary degrees or certificates by the end of this decade.

This growing demand for high-quality talent is evident in the widening wage gap. Those with a college degree earn more than 80 percent more than those with just a high school credential. And this divide has continued to grow for some time—even during the 2008-2010 recession—and has accelerated in recent years.

Millions of Americans recognize this, as indicated by the fact that enrollment in higher education institutions continues to rise.  Yet with so many of those failing to complete, the dream of a better life resulting from a college education is still just that—a dream.

The Starbucks program will not change the world on its own. Even if a quarter of all Starbucks employees take advantage of the program, it means about 30,000 to 40,000 people will benefit. That’s a start, but it’s a far cry from the nearly 14 million more degrees that Lumina Foundation has estimated will need to be produced nationally to meet future workforce needs.

That’s why all employers must invest in talent development to meet their own needs, to respond to the needs of the communities where they operate, and to contribute to national goals.  Starbucks is doing just that with its completion-focused the College Achievement Plan. But employers of all sizes and types must follow suit. Their combined efforts will have a measurable impact on millions of workers, and thereby on the nation’s collective well-being.

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Excelsior College Commencement Fri, 11 Jul 2014 18:45:12 +0000 matthew More »]]>

Remarks by Jamie P. Merisotis, President, Lumina Foundation
Excelsior College Commencement, Albany, NY

Thank you, and good afternoon, graduates. I am very pleased to be here and to congratulate all of you on this life-changing day. It’s truly a privilege for me to join your professors, President Ebersole and the leaders of Excelsior College as we honor your achievement.

Watch the full commencement speech | 10:18

And make no mistake: It is a wonderful achievement. Your degrees represent years of hard work and sacrifice, and I commend each and every one of you for that effort. And as I commend each of you, I also want to take a moment to note the contributions of your families and friends—many of whom have traveled from around the country to be here today with you. As each one of you now knows first-hand, no one gets to this stage alone. No one becomes a college graduate without the patience and support of others ― an understanding spouse … cooperative children … helpful aunts, cousins, parents and other family members and friends. So I salute all of you for this significant—and shared—achievement.

I don’t want to stop with congratulations, however. I also want to thank all of you for what you have done. You may not fully realize it now—particularly on a day like today, which is properly focused on celebrating personal victories—but the degree you’ve earned isn’t just about you, or even the loved ones who share this moment with you. It benefits all of us as Americans.

You see, you are the solution to our nation’s most vexing problem. You, and other graduates like you, are the answer to America’s most pressing need … the need for talent.

The strength of our nation—of any nation ― is the talent of its people: the sum total of the knowledge, skills and abilities inherent in its citizens. Only with sufficient talent, and the right kinds of talent, can we meet the demands of the exciting, rapidly changing—and yes, at times somewhat terrifying new era in which we all live.

I know you’ve felt the pressures of that new era. I’m told that the average age of this graduating class is 37 … that the overwhelming majority of you are, like me, the first generation in your families to graduate from college … that most of you held down jobs while attending classes here at Excelsior. In fact, many of you have been in the workforce for decades. You live and work in the real world. You know first-hand—and better than anyone ― how quickly and how profoundly that world is changing.

Many of you have lived through the hard times, no matter what part of the country you come from. Here in upstate New York, more than 100,000 traditional manufacturing jobs were lost between 2000 and 2008. And you’re here today, as the region—like many other across the nation—makes an historic shift to advanced manufacturing and other leading-edge industries such as life sciences and biotechnology. In fact, a fair number of you are very much a part of that historic shift. You’re here today to accept degrees in technology or nursing or health sciences.

Whatever credential you accept this afternoon, however—whether in liberal arts or business or public service ― you’ve been part of another historic shift … a change that might even be more significant than the shift to high-tech employment. I’m talking about a monumental shift within higher education itself: the shift away from the traditional idea of “going to college.” Your experience here at Excelsior ― an experience geared to adult students, one rooted in online learning and designed specifically to meet students’ needs—represents the future of higher education.

You and your Excelsior classmates are part of an immensely powerful wave: the wave of 21st century students. It’s an amazingly diverse group encompassing a wide range of ages, ethnicities, income levels, family situations and life experiences. In short, it’s a group that represents all of America … and, as I said earlier, we need to tap into all of this nation’s talent if we hope to thrive in this demanding era.

Today more than ever, higher education is the key to unlocking that talent. Unfortunately, American higher education wasn’t built for the 21st century student. In fact, college was originally designed to educate just a favored few, the elite. Thankfully, that has changed, and more changes are coming.

Schools like Excelsior—which are results-oriented, student-centered and responsive to the needs of individuals, employers and society—these institutions are helping to redefine college. They are paving the way for a much-needed new approach. And every one of you is living proof that this new approach is working.

We’ve heard from some naysayers recently that a college degree isn’t worth what it once was … that, particularly as college costs continue to rise, the time and effort and expense required to earn that degree may represent a poor investment. We’ve heard that it’s better simply to possess an entrepreneurial spirit … that it makes more sense to actively pursue a passion in the “real world” than to spend years in the world of academe.

The naysayers sound persuasive. After all, who can argue with the idea of following your passion and working to shape your own destiny in the real world? The problem is, today’s real world won’t be tomorrow’s or the next day’s. Jobs, workplaces, even entire industries and sectors … all can change quickly in our high-tech, global economy. This is one reason why, according to a government report released just this week, the people who graduated from college in 2008—when the worst recession in our lifetimes began—have such a low unemployment rate. The value of a college education in this new economy just continues to grow.

More importantly, what we know about the future is that without the knowledge and skills and growth we gain from college—creative thinking, adaptability, intellectual curiosity, problem-solving, the ability to connect disparate ideas, communications expertise—without these things, real-world success is likely to be very short-lived.

I assure you, then, that college is worth it. It’s worth it because it prepares us for the world that is really real … the one that is constantly changing and challenging … the one that all of you inhabit.

I, for one, have every confidence that you will continue to succeed in that world. After all, you’ve already proven yourselves to be pioneers. Here at Excelsior, you’ve been on the cutting edge of change in higher education. You’ve learned in exciting new ways and, in many ways, you’ve set an example of innovation for others to follow.

Your alma mater has done a wonderful job of serving you, as 21st century students. For more than four decades, this institution has made higher education a reality for many thousands of striving individuals … students who, for many reasons, found the traditional path to college to be rocky—or even blocked altogether.

As students, you have certainly benefited from Excelsior’s success. But you also helped create that success. After all, when all is said and done, without you—without your dedication and resolve and hard work—there would be no success to celebrate, whether individual or institutional.

You’ve worked hard to earn your spot in today’s ceremony. Today, with that well-earned piece of paper in hand, every one of you is a step closer to realizing your dreams—and our society will be very much improved because of that.

I urge you to make the most of the opportunities before you.  Because, my friends, the 21st century is here. And you are the 21st century. So keep striving and do great things—for your own sake, and for all of the rest of us who share this “real world” with you.

Again, congratulations to each of you on this memorable day. And thank you for inviting me to be part of it.

Excelsior College graduates receive diplomas | | July 12, 2014

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A College Planning Checklist Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:27:58 +0000 matthew More »]]> More »]]> 0