The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced $4 million in grants to seven cities and the National League of Cities' Institute for Youth, Education, and Families to boost college graduation rates through better coordination of the services that colleges, schools, and communities provide to students.
Grants of up to $250,000 will help launch nine-month collaborative planning efforts in San Francisco; New York City; Dayton, Ohio; Mesa, Arizona; Riverside, California; Phoenix; and Jacksonville, Florida. The grants will enable agencies in those cities to create a permanent system of integrated programs and policies that will make college more affordable and attainable for city youth. The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families will receive $2.4 million to serve as the intermediary for the work.
Recipients of the funding include Sinclair Community College in Dayton; Florida State College at Jacksonville; Mesa Community College; the City of Phoenix; the City of New York; and the Interagency Council, City and County of San Francisco. In addition, Riverside City College will receive $140,000 to explore how the city, the community college, and local school districts can work together to increase access to higher education.
A 2009 study by CEOs for Cities found that if each of the nation's fifty-one largest metropolitan areas improved the percentage of their populations with four-year degrees, it would boost the nation's GDP by $166 billion a year.
"The barriers preventing students from graduating are varied and complex, so we need governments, schools, and social service groups to coordinate and target their efforts," said Hilary Pennington, director of Education, Postsecondary Success, and Special Initiatives at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We need to make sure that those students who enroll in college successfully earn the credentials they seek."