Business and Education Leaders Meet To Advance Graduation Rates
Region selected to participate in national nonprofit’s initiative to dramatically increase degrees earned, skilled workforce
San Bernardino, CA – Leaders from eight universities, community colleges and representatives from economic development organizations in the Inland Empire recently gathered on the campus of California State University, San Bernardino to advance an effort aimed at significantly increasing educational attainment in the region. The leadership meeting was part of the Inland Empire’s participation in an initiative by national nonprofit Complete College America (CCA) focused on improving social mobility and ensuring more equitable outcomes in higher education institutions within metropolitan regions impacting at least 100,000 students.
The Inland Empire was selected as one of three initial sites for CCA’s Metro Momentum Pathways project. The initiative, supported by the ECMC Foundation, leverages the organization’s Game Changer strategies, data-driven interventions designed to restructure systems, to improve student outcomes and eliminate achievement gaps. The project calls for engaging community partners and exploring social supports to address non-educational barriers – such as transportation, childcare and food insecurity – that often lead students to drop out or take extra semesters to graduate, accumulating additional debt.
The Inland Empire lags behind much of the state in its student outcomes. Less than 30 percent of adults in the two-county area have an associate degree or higher, compared to 38 to 48 percent of adults in adjacent Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Only 151 out of every 1,000 high school freshmen in the region will complete a bachelor’s degree at a California public university.
Complete College Inland Empire became a member of CCA’s Alliance in August 2018, joining 45 other states, systems and institutional consortia taking bold actions to significantly increase the number of students successfully completing college and close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.
“Through Growing Inland Achievement, the Inland Empire is poised to accelerate college completion with the support of Complete College America, “ said GIA Senior Director and CCA Momentum Project Lead Ann Marie Allen. “The leadership of universities, colleges, and non-profits are fully committed to develop and implement a regional plan that will align and accelerate the various programs and initiatives that are focused on creating a well-educated workforce, thriving communities, and vibrant economy that creates prosperity for all.”
“Complete College America is excited to be working with higher education and business leaders in the Inland Empire to improve equity and educational attainment in the region,” said CCA President Yolanda Watson Spiva. “Their commitment to ensuring everyone in the IE, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, has the opportunity to pursue and earn degrees and credentials of value will have a significant impact on the overall quality of life.”
Participating institutions at the leadership meeting included the following founding members of Growing Inland Achievement (GIA), a collective impact organization dedicated to improving the long-term economic outlook of the IE: California State University, San Bernardino; University of California, Riverside; Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP); OneFuture Coachella Valley (OFCV); Riverside Community College District; Chaffey College; and the San Bernardino and Riverside County School Superintendents.
Teams from institutions in the IE participating in the Metro Momentum Pathways project will convene again in April to develop plans for implementing the student success strategies on their respective campuses.
Stay up to date on Complete College Inland Empire’s work at completecollege.org/inlandempire.