Top stories in higher ed for Thursday
Lumina Foundation is committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025.
January 31, 2019
Six Achieving the Dream Schools Recognized as ‘Leader Colleges’
Tiffany Pennamon, Diverse Issues in Higher Education
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Six community colleges across the country have earned Achieving the Dream's (ATD) "Leader College" designation for the first time, demonstrating their campus-wide commitment to closing opportunity gaps and improving overall student success. 

ATD, a nonprofit organization that champions evidence-based institutional improvement, says the newly minted Leader Colleges excelled in improving student outcomes and metrics in areas such as completion of Gateway math and/or English courses during a student’s first year, fall-to-fall retention from Year 1 to Year 2, courses attempted or completed with a C- or higher grade within a year of initial enrollment, and completion of a certificate or degree within four years of initial enrollment.

This Key Federal Program to Help Prisoners Get an Education Was Stopped in 1994. It’s Time to Bring It Back
Eillie Anzilotti, Fast Company
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In 2016, 626,000 people were released from prison in the United States. Many of these individuals are still struggling to find work: Among formerly incarcerated people, the unemployment rate is over 27 percent, compared to around 5 percent for the rest of the population. Bias against people with prison time on their resumes plays a significant role in this disparity. 

But there's another barrier to employment that starts to build up when people are in prison: Lack of access to education. Until 1994, the Federal Pell Grant program funded prisoners hoping to get a college degree or certificate. Now, activists and politicians are calling for it to be reinstated as a way to help people secure jobs after they leave prison. 

Rural Colleges Aren’t Supplying the Workers Rural Businesses and Agriculture Need
Matt Krupnick, The Hechinger Report
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Fayetteville is a rural community 80 miles south of Nashville and 33 miles north of Huntsville, Alabama. Agriculture is by far the largest industry, generating at least $110 million a year in surrounding Lincoln County. Until recently, though, the only college in town had no agriculture classes.

It’s an issue contributing to a widening skills gap in rural communities across the country: Not only are rural high school graduates less likely than their urban and suburban counterparts to go to college; higher education institutions in many of these places aren’t training them to fill the jobs that are their regions’ lifeblood.

A View of Higher Ed Innovation After Eight Years in Government
Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed
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For the last eight years, David Soo has played a key, if usually behind-the-scenes, role in the approach taken by Obama and now Trump administrations to encouraging innovation in higher education.

As an adviser to former under secretary of education Ted Mitchell and within Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's Office of Educational Technology, Soo has helped to craft policies and programs designed to improve access to high-quality postsecondary education and training. 

In this interview, Soo reflects on his time at the Education Department and his upcoming new role at Jobs for the Future. 

California Looks to Expand Financial Aid Access for Foster Youth
Sara Tiano, The Chronicle of Social Change
Why More Than a Third of College Students Are Changing Schools
Leigh Guidry, Lafayette Daily Advertiser
Free College Idea Hinges on Merger With K-12
Ashley A. Smith, Inside Higher Ed
Event: An Agenda for Higher Education Reform
American Enterprise Institute
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