Improving Post-Secondary Completion
Our region is an importer of job talent, as a burgeoning economy and perceptions of livability attract young, well-educated adults. While this may fuel economic growth, it also contributes to increased inequities for local residents as housing costs increase dramatically and living wage jobs are filled by transplants. The lack of qualified local workers is driven largely by the reality that, while most of our high school graduates go on to college, a majority of them never actually complete a degree. Limited earning potential—compounded by college debt—hampers prospects for individuals and casts a shadow over the state’s long-term economic outlook.
THE WORK SO FAR
This is our newest focus area, and the work is in its early stages. In August 2018, teams from our two partner community colleges assembled and built ambitious, measurable plans with a specific focus on increasing degree completion among students of color and immigrant and refugee students, and we have been steadily working towards those goals together.
2019-20 Community College Site Teams:
- Mt. Hood Community College
- Portland Community College, Southeast Campus
THE WORK YET TO BE DONE
Ensuring that more students complete a degree will take all of us. Colleges and universities must continue to assess their academic pathways to build clear, achievable routes to completion. Students need greater access to financial aid and support services. Employers must engage more deeply with local colleges and training programs to co-develop pathways to jobs. The rich asset of our local culturally-specific organizations should be better leveraged as a resource to support students of color and immigrant and refugee students as they pursue a degree. All of us can better collaborate to understand what is working and to learn from what is not.
“To survive in this city you need education beyond high school. What excites me about this work is the chance to build bridges right here in our own neighborhood, especially with immigrant
communities and people who are the first in their families to attend college.”
– Jessica Howard, Campus President, Portland Community College Southeast