Education Attainment Division
Tennessee Focuses on College Access to Address Labor Shortage
With a November 1 deadline approaching, high school seniors are signing up in droves for Gov. Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise program. So far, over 35,000 students have applied for the landmark initiative which provides free tuition to the state’s two-year community colleges. Tennessee is the first state to offer free college tuition without income or academic requirements, and the program has already exceeded its goal of enrolling 20,000 seniors.
Through Tennessee Promise high school seniors apply for state and federal financial aid, and the state will fill the remaining balance of their tuition. Students can apply the program to any of Tennessee’s tech colleges, community colleges, or any public or private 4-year university that offers an associate’s degree. Students are required to complete a FAFSA, attend mandatory meetings through their senior year, and complete at least eight hours of community service each semester while in college. The program’s estimated cost is $34 million per year, which will be covered by an endowment created by the state Assembly as well as excess lottery reserve funds.
The business community is taking heed of this program aimed to match students’ skills with projected future workforce demands- skills developed at career technical and community colleges. The Tennessean reports that in the past week business leaders from all across the country, primarily from chambers of commerce, have called the Governor’s office inquiring about the program.
In Tennessee, chambers have been on the forefront of increasing education attainment as an economic development driver.
- The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is focused on boosting higher education attainment to address a massive predicted labor shortage in the next decade. The chamber leads the Nashville region’s Vital Signs initiative, which convenes education and economic development leaders to connect education programs with employers’ workforce needs. They are working on a regional strategy that supports the Tennessee Promise program as well as encourages working adults to complete un-finished degree programs.
- The Knoxville Chamber, through its SpeakUp4Biz campaign, advocated for the Tennessee General Assembly to pass the bill that would fund the Tennessee Promise program at no additional cost to the state.
- The Kingsport Chamber began its focus on higher education as an economic development priority through a city-led effort called “Educate and Grow,” which offers scholarships to Northeast State Technical Community College (NESTCC) for any city high school graduate meeting entrance requirements. The program was adopted county-wide and became the model for the Tennessee Promise.
While the Governor's college access initiative is unprecedented, the application requirement that students complete a FAFSA form excludes a group that will comprise a substantial portion of Tennessee's future workforce- undocumented students. The FAFSA requirement ensures that this “last dollar” scholarship program remains affordable- students receive the maximum amount of financial aid based on their eligibility, and the state fills in the remaining balance. Undocumented students are unable to provide the social security number necessary to fill out the form, and are ineligible to take advantage of the Tennessee Promise.
With enrollment rates surpassing expectations, it’s predicted that two-thirds of Tennessee's eligible graduating seniors will go to college in 2015. The workforce pipeline does not end with attainment, and the next step will be to track how many students complete degree programs and move on to gainful employment. Local industry leaders will be a useful ally to inform community colleges about the skills college students will need to fill available jobs.
To learn more about how chambers are impacting higher education attainment visit the Higher Education Chamberpedia page.
Obesity is a Business Issue
More than two-thirds of US adults are obese or overweight, with 14 states touting an obesity rate above 30 percent. Now, Consider how a population of unhealthy adults impacts businesses - increased health care premiums, decreased employee productivity, and increased absenteeism. If current trends continue, the obesity rate is predicted to rise above 50% in the next 15 years. A majority overweight or obese future workforce is harmful to U.S. competitiveness and holds potentially debilitating long-term economic impacts.
Children often learn habits from their parents, and research indicates that unhealthy kids become unhealthy adults. Employer measures to promote a culture of health in the workplace and greater community through corporate wellness programs and childhood obesity prevention initiatives can help ensure both the current and future workforce is healthy and prepared to succeed in a competitive economy.
A new report by the American Heart Association indicates Americans overestimate their own health: while 74% of the 2,000 surveyed employees reported being in good or very good health, in reality 42% of these employees had been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as high blood pressure. While this is a troubling snapshot of employee health, the findings also reflect important opportunities for business leaders to improve health outcomes in the workplace. Notably, the study highlighted the influence senior leadership has in driving employees to engage in workplace health programs.
Workplace and Community Wellness:
A recent Quickpoll of ACCE’s membership asked chamber leadership to describe their community’s and member’s concern related to the impact of employee health and childhood obesity on both the current and future workforce. From the 90 chamber executives surveyed, 93% rated their members as being either very concerned or slightly concerned about the impact of employee health on their businesses and 85% of chambers said their communities are concerned about preventing childhood obesity.
The graph below reflects chamber members’ concern about employee/family wellness as it affects the current workforce:
Chambers of commerce support both workforce and community wellness in several capacities- from convening members and serving as a health and wellness resource for businesses- to scaling their impact through community-wide initiatives. The ACCE Quickpoll revealed that 65% of surveyed chambers promote corporate wellness programs now or plan to do so in the future. Examples of how chambers engage include: hosting events such as roundtables and conferences to promote corporate wellness plans to members; joining or forming community-wide partnerships to address wellness issues; leading regional initiatives through chamber wellness committees, councils or sub-committees; and including corporate wellness in chambers’ economic strategic plans. Both the Meadowlands (NJ) and Charlotte (NC) Chambers are prime examples of how Chambers are promoting these initiatives:
- The Meadowlands (NJ) Chamber of Commerce’s Health & Wellness Committee focuses on supports that directly impact their members, producing an Annual Health & Wellness Guide with vital information to help members navigate healthcare insurance, health programs, safety compliance and wellness.
- The Charlotte (NC) Chamber of Commerce seeks to impact the broader community through their health initiatives. The Healthy Charlotte Council, which is comprised of the chamber’s members, has a goal to help Charlotte achieve a top 10 ranking in the American Fitness Index within the next five years. The Council has set very specific goals for Charlotte, including: identifying key indicators of the fitness index and tracking status, establishing connectivity with pertinent organizations to drive community collaboration, and increasing the national reputation of Charlotte as a healthcare hub.
Childhood Health and Obesity Prevention:
In addition to corporate wellness initiatives, 65% of surveyed chambers from the Quickpoll also currently promote childhood wellness programs or plan to do so in the future. Examples of specific activities chambers noted include: supporting childhood obesity prevention in a chamber’s legislative agenda; working with local governments to implement child care ordinances; and providing topical surveys, reports and communication briefs to members.
Chamber Involvement in Supporting Childhood Wellness:
One example of Chamber involvement in this arena is the The Traverse City (MI) Chamber of Commerce. The Traverse City Chamber is leading the way in supporting childhood wellness and connecting economic success to early childhood health and education through the Traverse Bay Great Start Collaborative. Great Start is Michigan’s early childhood initiative and prioritizes “health” as one of its five main focus areas. Their farm to preschool initiative encourages early healthy eating habits by connecting local farms to home-based and center-based child care facilities to incorporate locally-grown fruits and vegetables into preschool meals and create age-and-culturally appropriate curriculum for students and parents to learn both deliver fruits and vegetables as well as teach children where their food comes from.
Interested in learning more? Visit the new “Workforce Wellness” webpage to learn how chambers are helping create healthier communities through initiatives to support childhood obesity prevention, corporate wellness, and access to healthcare.
Quickpoll Reveals Chamber Interest and Involvement in Supporting Common Core
ACCE recently conducted a QuickPoll:Common Core State Standards to learn if and how chambers were supporting higher K-12 academic standards and assessments in their states and communities. 140 Chamber Executives responded to the Quickpoll and revealed that chambers were indeed both interested and involved. 44 percent of surveyed chambers have a policy platform supporting more rigorous K-12 academic standards and assessments. If a chamber did not already have one 22 percent said they would like to adopt a policy platform supporting new K-12 standards and assessments.
Chamber involvement on this issue is vital because of the lack of awareness and understanding of CCSS. A national poll released by Achieve found that 63 percent of respondents know very little or nothing about CCSS. Of those who had heard of common core, 40 percent had an unfavorable impression and 37 percent had a favorable impression. But when the principles of CCSS were explained in more detail, favorability improved to 69 percent, with only 23 percent retaining their unfavorable impressions. Additionally, a recent public opinion poll by the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce revealed that outside of educators and military leaders, the business community represents the most credible voice to advocate for higher K-12 standards and assessments.
Our Quickpoll provided a snapshot of how chambers are working to ensure college and career success for their community's future workforce.
- 88 percent of chambers said they were working with key stakeholders such as state education agencies, local school districts, and teachers
- 78 percent are communicating to their members about Common Core State Standards or higher academic standards based on common core
- 63 percent are holding events focused on CCSS and 58 percent are speaking to policy makers about CCSS or higher academic standards and assessments.
How Can ACCE Help?
When asked about the supports/resources/services ACCE could provide to help chambers engage in the successful implementation of new and more rigorous standards and assessments:
- overwhelmingly (93%) of chambers wanted examples of best practice documents/case studies and examples of policy platforms from other chambers
- 79% wanted tips on engaging membership and/or assistance identifying community-specific goals
- 68% wanted tips on getting started
- 60% requested conference calls/webinars with content experts
- 50% wanted peer to peer connections with chamber executives also working on starting an education platform
Did you know...
The Education and Workforce Development Chamberpedia section of the HERO portal contains resources chambers can use to engage their communities across the whole cradle to career spectrum. Chamberpedia's K-12 section features business-friendly tools, samples and FAQs catered to all levels of interest and engagement whether you are interested in simply learning more about Common Core State Standards or are actively working with business leaders, schools, higher education institutions, etc. to prepare your communities to successfully implement more rigorous standards and assessments. Materials found in the College and Career Readiness section include: blog posts from chamber executives; a communications toolkit to reach policymakers, the media and the general public (including your employees) with a consistent business message about the need for improvements to our nation’s education system; sample common core pledge and letter from business leaders; and customizable one-page PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) flyers that organizations can add their logo and website to on how business leaders can work in partnership with schools and districts to shape new policies and practices.
Did you know...
The Education Attainment Division hosts bi-monthly webinars and conference calls for members of the greater EAD Community featuring content experts and chamber practitioners discussing topics across the cradle to career spectrum. Join next week's webinar: Deeper Learning for Global Competiveness to learn how businesses can help ensure students have the skills required to succeed in a globally competitive workforce. You can also listen to audio from the November 2013 EAD Community Call: Common Core Messaging- How to Get Ahead of the Pushback, facilitated by Kelli Wells, Director of US Education, GE Foundation.
Did you know...
ACCE has recently launched a Mentor Program. Chamber executives can self-select a range of expertise, including education and workforce development, or search for a chamber peer that has expertise in their desired interest area. Sign up to become a mentor or find a mentor today!
Chambers are vital to helping communities understand the importance of a skilled workforce prepared for to meet the demands of both college and career. Our Chamberpedia pages and Samples Library are populated by your contributions, so we invite you to help us continue to grow and expand on these valuable resources. Have a case study for how your chamber is supporting next generation standards and assessments in your community? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Visit the EAD page to learn more information about the Education Attainment Division.
**NOTE:you will need your ACCE login (jsmith) and password (EAD123) to access the links on this post and HERO resources.
Call with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
This coming Monday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be addressing leaders from the foundation and corporate sector. The conference call on Monday, March 10 at 3:15pm EST will focus on the President’s FY15 Budget proposal, released earlier this week at a preschool in Washington, DC. Secretary Duncan will provide an overview of the Department of Education's budget request and all of the DOE's priorities for the coming year. He will also briefly discuss the President’s recent announcement regarding My Brother’s Keeper, an important new initiative focused on improving outcomes for boys and young men of color.
There will be an opportunity to submit questions at the end of the call.
Monday, March 10, 3:15-3:45pm EST
(Note: you do not need to RSVP)
Greater Spokane Inc's Business AfterSchool Program Brings Companies & Students Together
Last week Greater Spokane Inc. hosted Engineering Week as part of its Business AfterSchool Program. Business AfterSchool brings area students and parents to Spokane's high-demand industry sectors and companies to teach them about different careers and the skills needed to land available jobs. The program will devote one week each to focus on these industries: health care, engineering, manufacturing and computer science.
Nashville Chamber Releases 21st Annual Education Report Card
Today, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Education Report Card Committee released the 2013 Education Report Card for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). The Chamber has convened a diverse group of business and community leaders to evaluate the progress of Nashville’s public school system for 21 years. Each year, the committee chooses a further area of study that is critical for student success. This year’s focus is Common Core State Standards, the state’s new academic standards that align with college and career-readiness benchmarks.
This year Tennessee was named the fastest-improving state in the country on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). While, the committee's report found declines and plateaus in areas such as English language arts scores and middle school achievement, they applauded the district on many initiatives including its Academic Performance Framework and the ambitious goals of the 2018 strategic plan. Marc Hill, Chief Policy Officer for the Nashville Chamber provides an overview of the committee's presentation and recommendations here: http://bit.ly/J1SYGX
Beginning its work in August, the 24-member committee conducted more than 30 interviews, collected data and visited schools, before issuing five recommendations in the areas of school system performance and Common Core State Standards.
This year’s committee recommendations are:
•Metro Schools should take decisive action toward discontinuing their persistently lowest-performing, under-enrolled school programs under the new district Academic Performance Framework.
•Metro Schools should implement an aggressive strategy to recruit and retain high-performing bilingual teachers.
•Metro Government should allow enrolled K-12 students to ride Metropolitan Transit Authority buses at no cost to the student, making school choice a real possibility for Nashville’s students and families.
•The Tennessee General Assembly should stay the course in implementing Common Core State Standards and the corresponding PARCC assessment.
•Metro Schools should implement a strategy to communicate with parents, teachers, students and the broader public about the increased rigor and higher expectations that correspond with Common Core Standards.
To view this year’s complete report, visit: http://bit.ly/educationreportcard.
Business-Friendly Tools Chambers Can Use to Support a College & Career-Ready Agenda
As 48 states begin to implement new K-12 standards and assessments chambers are poised to bridge the education community with the needs of employers to prepare the future workforce to be competitive in a global economy. In order to assist chambers at all levels of engagement the K-12 section of ACCE's online HERO information library features business-friendly resources related to next generation assessments and Common Core State Standards.
College and Career Readiness
The Education and Workforce Development section of the HERO portal contains resources chambers can use to engage their communities across the whole cradle to career spectrum. The K-12 section of ACCE's online Chamberpedia features business-friendly tools, samples and FAQs catered to all levels of interest and engagement whether you are interested in simply learning more about Common Core State Standards or are actively working with business leaders, schools, higher education institutions, etc. to prepare your communities to successfully implement more rigorous standards and assessments.
Common Core 101 & the Role of Business
Introductory resources to new standards and assessments include: a presentation for chambers and employers on Understanding Common Core Standards by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; a presentation by Tim Sheehy, President, Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce on Transitioning to the Common Core State Standards; and a Myth vs. Facts sheet prepared by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Next Generation Standards and Assessments - Tools & Resources for Chambers
Additional materials found in the College and Career Readiness section serve to showcase what is being done to raise the bar for the future workforce and offers tools from experts and chamber leaders on how to get involved. The section includes: blog posts from chamber executives; a communications toolkit to reach policymakers, the media and the general public (including your employees) with a consistent business message about the need for improvements to our nation’s education system; sample common core pledge and letter from business leaders; and customizable one-page PARCC and SBAC flyers that organizations can add their logo and website to on how business leaders can work in partnership with schools and districts to shape new policies and practices.
Our Chamberpedia pages and Samples Library are populated by your contributions, so we invite you to help us continue to grow and expand on these valuable resources. Have a case study for how your chamber is supporting next generation standards and assessments in your community? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Visit the EAD page to learn more information about the Education Attainment Division. Check out the Mentor Program to connect with chamber leaders with education and workforce development expertise or sign up to become a Mentor yourself!
*Note: you will need your ACCE login (jsmith) and password (EAD123) to access the links on this post and HERO resources.
Impacting Education: Where are the Resources?
Chambers can influence a broad spectrum of issues by harnessing the collective voice of their business communities. Trends in corporate social responsibility and the burgeoning number of chambers directly involved in increasing regional education outcomes signify growing business involvement in education and workforce development.
A concerted, collaborative effort by local institutions can help identify areas where partners can work together to address pressing educational issues, better leverage resources and have a measurable impact. One way to begin this process is to use external asset mapping to stimulate thinking about potential resources to support your education and workforce development goals.
Consider these steps
- Determine where along the cradle to career spectrum you would like to engage: Early childhood education, K-12, post-secondary, workforce development?
- Choose a focus for your activity: Programs, policy, systems reform, messaging?
- Consider potential funding sources: Corporate sponsors, foundations, government funding, government funding through competitive grants (e.g., Race to the Top), community-based organizations?
An ACCE Quickpoll of 236 chamber executives found that two out of three cited a lack of staff or funding as the main obstacle to becoming involved in education and workforce development. However, chambers have overcome this hurdle through leveraging the impact of their business leaders to attract strategic partners and funders.
- The Talbot (MD) Chamber was part of a community team that raised money to purchase a laptop computer for every student from 8th grade until graduation. This program grew into the One to One Laptop Initiative and is now funded through the local school district as a budget item.
- The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s education and talent development initiatives include K-12 education improvement, talent recruitment and retention, and workforce systems development. Most of the funding for these initiatives comes from their Partnership 2020 economic development strategy, a five-year, 10-county strategic plan. In addition, the chamber has received funds for specific projects and initiatives from area corporations and philanthropists, local and national foundations and the region’s three Workforce Investment Boards.
- UNITE-LA, the education and workforce development arm of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, works with member companies, corporate foundations, local community based-organizations and philanthropic foundations to foster education and workforce development systems that support Los Angeles’ youth and the development of a thriving regional economy. UNITE-LA seeks public grants to support and promote these collaborative partnerships.
- Through their multi-partner regional business, community, and economic development collaborative, Sarasota Tomorrow Next, the Greater Sarasota (FL) Chamber of Commerce allocates funds from membership pledges for education and workforce development initiatives.
- The Arlington (TX) Chamber of Commerce partnered with their local university, workforce investment boards and city government to establish a co-owned and operated Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development.
- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided funding to the Kentucky Chamber Foundation to develop their communications and business outreach campaign to build a coalition of business leaders advocating for college-and-career-ready standards in Kentucky.
- In Texas, funding for the Austin Chamber’s wide array of workforce and talent development initiatives was derived from a line item within Opportunity Austin, a five-county initiative for job creation in Central Texas fueled by $14.4 million in business investments.
The business voice is the strongest force to address the need for a highly skilled workforce to meet the demands of our global economy, and this work is something that every chamber can lead. For more information about ACCE's Education Attainment Division email or call 703-998-3571.
New Scorecard and Salary Surfer Tools to Aid Community College Students in California
For 2.6 million students, the California Community Colleges system is the gateway to higher education and a fulfilling career. As California seeks to dramatically increase the number of credentialed and college educated workers to remain economically competitive, the California Community Colleges system is a vital link to a strong and skilled workforce.
On Friday, September 13, the Los Angeles Area Chamber's Education & Workforce Development Council hosted a discussion with the region’s newest Los Angeles Community College District leaders, Trustees Mike Eng and Ernie Moreno and East Los Angeles and Los Angeles City College Presidents, Marvin Martinez and Renee Martinez. They outlined their plans for implementing the ground breaking policy reforms recommended by the California Community Colleges Student Success Taskforce.
One tool that was discussed was the “Student Success Scorecard” unveiled earlier this year. Since its release, the Scorecard has been lauded as a user-friendly tool, which provides all stakeholders with important information about their local college’s outcomes.
The Scorecard includes a groundbreaking “Salary Surfer,” which provides comparative information about the median earnings of recent graduates by college, discipline or program area. The Salary Surfer highlights the return on investment that a community college certificate or associate degree program can provide to students.
The data reveals that students who complete an associate degree double their annual pre-degree earnings after two years in the workforce and nearly triple their pre-degree earnings after five years in the workforce. Furthermore, nearly 45 percent of students who graduated with an associate degree earned more than $54,000 annually five years after getting their degree, which is equal to the median wage of someone with a bachelor’s degree living in California according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
This scorecard represents an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability on student progress and success in the largest public higher education system in the nation. Using this data, faculty, staff and community stakeholders can also determine if colleges are narrowing achievement gaps, which is vitally important for our students and our state's economy.
The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce continues to work with California Community College leaders to advance student success in Los Angeles.
The Case for Business Investment in Early Childhood Education
New study finds that virtually no one believes less should be done to support Early Childhood Education (ECE)
Okay, that's probably not that surprising. What might surprise you in First Five Years Fund's recently-released report is the widespread public, cross-sector, and bi-partisan support for investment in zero-to-five education. Specifically, the 800 voters surveyed for their report believe overwhelmingly that: 1) Early Education should be regarded as a national priority- second only to increasing economic prosperity and decreasing the tax burden; 2)Early child education and care must be more affordable; and 3) Congress needs to act NOW to increase access to excellent and affordable early education and childcare services.
On the heels of the survey's release a group of Chamber CEOs and business leaders gathered at the US Chamber last Wednesday to advocate on behalf of business investment in early child preparedness programs. Speaking at the gathering, Brian Maher, the retired chairman and CEO fo Maher Terminals and former chairman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce was quoted in a Washington Post article saying: "If somebody had said to me about a decade ago...that I would one day be down here in Washington speaking on behalf of early chidlhood education, I would have thought they were on drugs."
On drugs he was not. An evolving body of research and data showcases early education's astounding return on investment, and Maher joins a growing contingency of business and public sector leaders that have seen the connection between investment in a child's formative years as a direct investment in our future economy.
For a synthesis of the wide array of early childhood initiatives chambers and business organizations are engaging in across the country, refer to the recently-released study by America's Promise Alliance and project ReadyNation, with support from ACCE: Championing Success: Business Organizations for Early Childhood Investments.
The report shows that at least one state chamber of commerce, large city chamber, or state business roundtable in 44 states has publicly supported early childhood policy initiatives.
Numbers Don't Lie: Take a look to determine the potential impact of your investment.
- $11 of economic benefits over a child's lifetime for every $1 spent on Pre-K programs
- $7 in reducing societal and economic costs for every $1 spent on early childhood education
- Reduction in crime and societal costs
- Increase in college attainment and social and economic mobility