Press Release: Jobs for the Future Announces Commitment to Expand College Access at White House Event

BOSTON, MA (December 4, 2014) – Today, Jobs for the Future and Michael Collins, Associate Vice President for Postsecondary State Policy for JFF, will join President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment. 

Jobs for the Future is a nonprofit organization that researches, develops and implements solutions that help youth and adults better prepare for postsecondary education and in-demand jobs. JFF is part of two of the commitments being highlighted at today’s event – Accelerating Opportunity and Breakthrough Collaborative.

Accelerating Opportunity is designed to increase the ability of adults with low basic skills to earn valued postsecondary credentials and sustain lucrative and rewarding careers. JFF works closely with more than 100 community colleges in 7 states that are seeking to improve their completion rates with students who are significantly underprepared for college-level work. The states and colleges have experienced substantial success, and have produced nearly 8,000 credentials since 2010.

An important programmatic element of the Accelerating Opportunity model includes the development of college and career pathways for in-demand occupations accessible to people who otherwise would first have to complete an adult education program and earn a GED. 

In addition to these efforts, JFF is a partner in Breakthrough Collaborative, together with Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Achieving the Dream, and is making a commitment to address the failure rate of students in postsecondary remedial mathematics or “gateway” courses. 

“Jobs for the Future is dedicated to helping underprepared students—traditional and nontraditional—achieve their dreams through sustainable wages and employment. We look forward to working closely with colleges and education leaders across the country to provide opportunities for students to earn credentials and certificates that provide a clear career pathway,” said Maria Flynn, Senior Vice President at JFF.

Today’s participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The President will announce new steps on how his Administration is helping to support these actions, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college.  Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and includes a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action on January 14, 2014.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class.  Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a Bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.

About Accelerating Opportunity

Accelerating Opportunity seeks to change the way Adult Basic Education is delivered by putting students on track to earn a postsecondary credential and providing them with the support needed to succeed. The initiative targets workers who are underprepared for today’s demanding job market and builds on the legacy of JFF’s innovative adult education initiative Breaking Through, as well as Washington State’s I-BEST program. Accelerating Opportunity is supported by a strategic partnership of five of the nation’s leading philanthropies.

About Jobs for the Future

Jobs for the Future works to ensure that all underprepared young people and workers have the skills and credentials needed to succeed in our economy by creating solutions that catalyze change in our education and workforce delivery systems. Working with our partners, JFF designs and drives the adoption of innovative and scalable education and career training models and systems that lead from college readiness to career advancement. We also develop and advocate for the federal and state policies needed to support these solutions.

www.jff.org