The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) has named six exceptional organizations recipients of the 2016-17 Award for Education Attainment (Award). These organizations, which are part of a unique network of chambers of commerce and business organizations that champion education attainment, are receiving a one-time $40,000 award stimulus to bolster their established efforts to increase postsecondary attainment in their region.
Winners of the 2016 Award include:
The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce partners with the Tri-County Cradle to Career initiative, a Collective Impact effort, to ensure every high school student graduates college and/or career ready. In support of the community’s vision, the Chamber is especially focused on increasing the number of high school students that complete an associate’s degree. It has successfully worked closely with community partners to develop more than 60 career academies in the region, and is now working to expand the Youth Apprenticeship Program and Accelerate Greater Charleston Scholarship program. The Youth Apprenticeship Program, a two year program in which high school juniors and seniors attend Trident Technical College and intern with a local employer, not only ensures students receive a high school diploma, but also an associate’s degree, credentialing from the U.S. Department of Labor, and two years of paid work experience. Furthermore, the Accelerate Greater Charleston Scholarships provide Youth Apprentice Program participants a full scholarship, which covers college classes and textbooks, to ensure students complete the program debt free.
The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce leads the Direct-to-College Achievement Plan, or DTC70, which is the first multi-chamber, multi-school district, multi-business compact that is committed to enrolling 70% of the class of 2016 directly in higher education. The DTC70 Partnership prioritizes college readiness, college access, financial aid completion, and summer college transition interventions to meet the key milestone targets necessary to support its goal for 2016, and to help a greater number of students access the higher education and training opportunities they need to compete for high demand jobs in central Texas. To support this goal, the Chamber has successfully improved a regional College Ready Portal for high school counselors, which provides real-time actionable data on student completion of college going milestones, including college applications and Free Application for Federal Students Aid, and college readiness data. The portal, however, lacks the capacity to standardize and automate the way in which data is uploaded to the portal and is not accessible to students and their parents; thus, the Chamber seeks to improve the portal further, especially to provide more targeted support to student and their parents.
The Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce has formed a collaborative partnership between the public and private sectors as well as institutions of higher education to increase postsecondary enrollment, persistence, and completion rates, and ensure all students in El Paso have the resources they need to apply for financial aid. It seeks to increase the number of students in the El Paso region who complete the Free Application for Federal Students Aid (FAFSA) to 70% by 2025, a goal that’s aligned to the Chamber’s overall goal of increasing post-secondary education attainment to 60% by 2025. To do this the Chamber is expanding the reach of its FAFSA Nights program, a program that assists nearly 4,000 high school seniors in the El Paso community complete their FAFSA applications each year, by creating a mobile application and marketing campaign to encourage more students to pursue postsecondary education.
The JAX Chamber is the lead convener of a cross-sector collaboration, Earn Up, which is driven by 25 stakeholder partners who are working to increase the percentage of the workforce holding a postsecondary certificate or degree to 60% by 2025. This effort promotes “higher earning through higher learning” to high school students, adult learners with some college but no degree, and military veterans. With nearly 3,000 military personnel, many of whom do not hold college degrees or credentials, exiting into civilian life in the region each year, the JAX Chamber is focusing on providing these individuals with information about opportunities to earn an industry certificate or college degree in a high-demand industry sector in northeast Florida. Together with local military leaders, the JAX Chamber has formed the Northeast Florida Military Veteran College Network, a large working committee of Earn Up, to further develop resources for veterans, and advocate for expanded and unified use of prior learning assessments.
The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce is an active partner in the community’s Springfield Higher Education Project 2025, a Lumina Community Partnership for Attainment that seeks to raise postsecondary education attainment to 60% by 2025. The Chamber has developed a multi-pronged approach to support this work, which includes increasing the number of businesses that provide tuition assistance and degree attainment assistance programs, and supports employers and their employees by providing a tuition assistance guidebook along with in-person support. It also partners with its four largest post-secondary institutions to identify and target individuals who have some college or no degree that could benefit from tuition assistance or support programs, and works with area companies that seek to create effective talent attraction and retention policies. Furthermore, the Springfield chamber leads GO CAPS, an innovative year-long, immersive career exploration program for high school juniors and seniors that helps nearly 200 students navigate college and career pathways in targeted industries, and tracks them through college and into the workforce.
The Business Council of New York State (BCNYS) and its affiliated organization, The Public Policy Institute of New York State (PPI), have established a long term goal to address the state's skills gap. As a result, BCNYS established the NYS P-TECH Leadership Council in 2013 to scale innovative P-TECH 9-14 schools—which are schools that ensure students earn a high school diploma, secure a cost-free, industry-recognized, two-year college degree, and master professional skills—across the state. BCNYS seeks to increase the number of 9th graders entering P-TECH schools to 2,000 this year and increase the number of employers supporting Work-Based Learning opportunities for 10th and 11th grade students. To do this, BCNYS will host five regional sessions to local community stakeholders, and advise Council members and employers on how to partner with NYS P-TECH schools and other education partners to offer effective Work-Based Learning opportunities to students. It will also create an enhanced online version of the NYS P-TECH Work-Based Learning Toolkit that will include additional tools for employers, and new video resources to support its regional activities.