Louisville’s Education Movement Earns National Recognition

Contact: Mindy Peterson
C2 Strategic Communications
502.595.8704, mindy@c2strategic.com

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.

Sunday’s College Fair Helps Students Choose Schools, Find Scholarships

Contact: Mindy Peterson
C2 Strategic Communications
502.595.8704, mindy@c2strategic.com


Sunday’s College Fair Helps Students Choose Schools, Find Scholarships 55,000 Degrees among 250 exhibitors sharing information, answers

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Oct. 10, 2014) – This Sunday afternoon, high school students and working adults will be learning more about earning college degrees at the annual College and Career Expo, the region’s largest college and career recruiting event. The College and Career Expo is in its 22nd year of providing education and career opportunities for young people and adults.

55,000 Degrees, Louisville’s college-completion movement, is among the event’s more than 250 exhibitors from across the country, including colleges, universities, vocational schools and employers. Degrees At Work, a partner program of 55,000 Degrees, will have representatives to assist working adults who want to go to college or finish a college degree.

The College and Career Expo runs from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12 at the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center (South Wing, Hall A). Admission and parking are free.

Attendees can meet one-on-one with recruiters, career counselors and admission representatives and learn about the more than $750,000 available in scholarships.

For a full list of exhibitors and for more information, visit www.CollegeandCareerExpo.com or email marleneknightevents@gmail.com. Follow the College & Career Expo on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CollegeandCareerExpo and Twitter: @KyCollegeCareer.

About 55,000 Degrees
55,000 Degrees is Louisville’s ambitious movement to add 55,000 more college graduates in the Louisville area by 2020, increasing the percentage of working-age adults with two or four-year degrees to 50 percent. For more information, go to www.55000degrees.org.


Job Posting: Director of Community Engagement

Posting closed


55,000 Degrees (55K) is seeking a Director of Community Engagement to creatively build audience for and motivate stakeholder engagement in 55K’s mission by championing Louisville’s college-going and completion culture, engaging groups and individuals who care and want to help, identifying and deploying effective communications vehicles and facilitating 55K’s role in events, coalitions and action networks. The Director will act as ambassador and champion for the value of postsecondary education.

55,000 Degrees is a multi-sector partnership and community movement launched in 2010 with the goal of increasing postsecondary degree attainment in the Louisville region to 50% of the working age population (or 55,000 more degrees) by 2020.

Expected Outcomes (what success looks like)

  1. Take 55K’s outreach and engagement to the next level by building and implementing a strategy to engage those who care and want to help Louisville’s college completion agenda
  2. Facilitate and support collaborative action to improve student outcomes and further 55K objectives
  3. Build online audience through digital marketing channels
  4. Promote 55K’s brand and 2020 goal

View the full job description here

“I’m Going to College” 55K Signing Day Celebrates Commitment to College

Mayor Fischer declares Saturday “College Spirit Day”

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 29, 2014) 55,000 Degrees, Louisville’s education movement, is joining forces with community partners to celebrate the commitment of Louisville high school students to earn their college degrees. All high school seniors pledging to go to college are invited to I’m Going to College 55K Signing Day.

“We’re committed to adding 55,000 more college graduates in the Louisville area by 2020,” said Mayor Greg Fischer, chairman of 55,000 Degrees. “Each high school senior making the decision to go to college is getting us one step closer to our goal, while putting themselves on the path to a brighter future.”

Mayor Fischer will take part in signing day festivities Saturday to recognize students’ hard work and dedication. The event is free and open to the public.


I’m Going to College 55K Signing Day

Saturday, May 31, 2:00-4:30 p.m.

Kentucky Center for African American Heritage

1701 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.


Register in advance at www.ig2college.eventbrite.com or register on-site the day of the event, 1:00-2:00 p.m.

Mayor Fischer said this is an effort the entire community can support. He declared Saturday, May 31 “College Spirit Day.” Fischer is encouraging all residents to show their college spirit and support for students beginning their college careers by wearing t-shirts and other college apparel.

I’m Going to College 55K Signing Day is a day of celebration and a chance to connect college-bound students with key resources. Organizer DeWana Hadder is a first-generation college student who launched the I’m Going to College Pep Rally last year. “I wanted students to know the community supports their decision to go to college,” said Hadder. “Our community offers too many resources for students to feel they’re alone in their efforts. I want them to know we’re behind them and will be throughout their college journey.”

The pep rally evolved into a signing day event, with students signing a commitment to attend college and earn their degrees. “Deciding to go to college is a time of celebration for students,” said Mary Gwen Wheeler, 55,000 Degrees executive director. “Special recognition should extend to all students, not just athletes who capture headlines when signing letters of intent.”


Connecting with Resources

Several area colleges and universities are taking part in I’m Going to College 55K Signing Day, giving students a chance to connect with staff and other students before starting college. Efforts are designed to help prevent “summer melt,” seen when students enroll for college, but don’t attend in the fall. Nearly 20% of JCPS students who file a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) do not enroll in college in the fall.

Schools taking part in I’m Going to College 55K Signing Day include:

University of Louisville                                                    Sullivan University

University of Kentucky                                                Spencerian College

Jefferson Community & Technical College                   Ivy Tech Community College

Bellarmine University                                                 Kentucky State University

Spalding University                                                     Murray State University

Indiana University Southeast                                      Western Kentucky University


Fun and Food

Students taking part in I’m Going to College 55K Signing Day will be encouraged to use social media to share pictures and updates throughout the day, #ig2c.

A limited number of free t-shirts will be available to participants and door prizes will be offered, including several TARC Summer Youth Passes offering unlimited travel through August 31. Texas Roadhouse is providing free food.

Sponsors include 55,000 Degrees, I’m Going to College, 15K Degrees Initiative, Jefferson County Public Schools, Archdiocese of Louisville, KentuckianaWorks, Louisville Urban League, KHEAA and Louisville Metro Police Foundation.