Contact: Mindy Peterson
C2 Strategic Communications
Louisville’s Education Movement Earns National Recognition
55,000 Degrees commended for successful collaboration with businesses
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Oct. 29, 2014) – Louisville has received national attention for its efforts to increase the number of working-age adults who have college degrees. Louisville’s education movement, 55,000 Degrees, is one of the winners in the Talent Dividend competition. Successful efforts to engage and partner with Louisville businesses have earned the city recognition from the Talent Dividend for “Exemplary Business Collaboration.”
“Businesses are a key ally in helping us increase education attainment in Louisville,” said Mayor Greg Fischer, Chairman of the Board for 55,000 Degrees. “This recognition encourages us to work even harder. With the support of more businesses, we can continue to move the bar and push Louisville closer to its goal of having 50 percent of working-age adults with college degrees by 2020.”
55,000 Degrees Executive Director Mary Gwen Wheeler is in Washington D.C. to accept the award at the CEOs for Cities Talent Dividend Competition event. “We know that increasing education attainment is a community effort,” said Wheeler. “Businesses are a critical part of the equation. Whether it’s assistance with tuition reimbursement, a flexible schedule or simply offering information about college programs, businesses are helping us produce a more educated workforce.”
The award highlights the successful collaboration of 55,000 Degrees and Degrees At Work, a program supported by Greater Louisville Inc. and Business Leaders for Education. “GLI’s Degrees At Work continues to address the need for a ready, educated workforce by partnering with area businesses to help working adults complete their education,” said Kent Oyler, president and CEO of GLI. “Louisville’s bold goal of significantly increasing the number of degree holders in our community will make us more competitive for new jobs and business investment.”
Nearly 70 businesses have joined Degrees At Work to promote college-going among employees. To be even more successful, more of Louisville’s employers are needed to join Degrees At Work and support adult workers in earning college degrees.
Louisville currently has the highest percentage of working-age adults with a college degree in the community’s history at 41.3 percent, exceeding the national average by nearly 2 percentage points.
Louisville was one of 57 cities in the United States to enter the Talent Dividend competition, with a $1 million prize for the greatest per capita increase in the number of degrees awarded over a four-year period (2009-2013 academic years).
Louisville ranked just outside of the top ten. Louisville and Jefferson County had a combined increase of 11.5% in college degrees awarded during the time period, which was the twelfth largest increase in the United States. While falling short of the top prize, Louisville takes top honors for cultivating the best business partnerships among the 57 cities in the competition.
The effort afforded Louisville and 55,000 Degrees the opportunity to be part of a learning network during the four-year competition. Each year, registered cities submitted documentation of efforts, policies and initiatives undertaken to increase the number of college degrees. Lessons learned will be used to help Louisville and other cities increase their college attainment rates.
Talent Dividend is a research project designed to calculate the monetary gains cities can achieve by increasing college attainment rates. The project is funded by the Kresge Foundation and Lumina Foundation.