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Louisville hits historic number of college degrees

Positive trends and paths to progress unveiled

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Nov. 19, 2013) — More people in Louisville have college degrees than ever before. The finding is one of several measures of progress in educational attainment in the 55,000 Degrees annual report released today.

degrees55,000 Degrees is the ambitious community movement launched three years ago with the goal of increasing the number of college graduates by 55,000 by 2020. Reaching the goal will ensure that half of working-age adults in Louisville have college degrees.

“We are making progress because the community is working together,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Education partners, businesses and civic groups are stepping up to make Louisville smarter and stronger and attract better, higher-paying paying jobs to the area.”

The goal of having a majority of Louisville’s working-age population holding college degrees is within reach and can be achieved with stronger teamwork and more partners stepping forward, Fischer said.

Highlights of 2013 progress report

♦ More people in Louisville have college degrees than ever before

o 41.3 percent of working adults in Louisville have a college degree, the highest number in the city’s history.

o Louisville exceeds the national average by nearly two percentage points.

♦ More people are earning degrees

o Local colleges and universities have ramped up degree production by 20 percent since 2010, granting nearly 19,000 degrees.

♦ More adults are going back to school

o From 2000-2010, the number of adult students increased 42 percent nationwide.

o With a 67 percent increase during the same time period, Louisville-area colleges and universities outpaced national adult enrollment growth by 25 percent.

♦ More high school seniors are ready for college and/or career

o JCPS is on track to meet the district goal set by the Kentucky Department of Education of two-thirds of graduating seniors being college/career ready by 2015.

Despite the advances being made, Louisville is still behind schedule to reach its target of 55,000 more degree holders by 2020. However, the data show paths to progress to help reach the goal.

Paths to progress

♦ Help more working-age adults earn college degrees

o More of Louisville’s employers are needed to step up and aggressively support adult workers earning college degrees.

o More than 60 businesses have stepped up to support Degrees At Work.

♦ Close attainment gaps in race/ethnicity and gender

o Women are outpacing men in earning college degrees by more than a 3:2 margin

o Whites are outpacing African-Americans and Hispanic/Latinos by a 2:1 margin

♦ Stop the leaks in the education pipeline

o 20 percent of JCPS high school graduates who were college bound did not attend classes in the fall with first-generation college-goers and low-income students especially underrepresented among college-going peers.

o A stronger college-going culture is needed to ensure all high school students are college and/or career ready.

♦ Create and improve connections between local colleges, graduates and employers

o Only 42 percent of associate degree and 37 percent of bachelor’s degree holders from the class of 2006 were employed in Louisville five years later.

o Increased collaboration between schools and employers can help build clear career pathways.

Humana says ‘Count Me In’ with Louisville’s largest pledge

Fischer announced that Louisville-based Humana is pledging to help 2,000 of its workers earn their degrees by 2020. The commitment is the largest yet from an employer for the Count Me In! campaign launched by Fischer. Humana offers tuition reimbursement and scholarship opportunities to its associates.

“Humana is leading the way with this impressive effort,” said Mayor Fischer. “I challenge other Louisville companies, big and small, to follow suit and help Louisville build a more educated workforce.”

15K Initiative gets financial boost to increase minority graduates

A partner in the 55,000 Degrees movement is getting $35,000 in funding grants to increase the number of African-American graduates. The 15K Initiative, which is working to ensure 15,000 African-Americans earn college degrees by 2020, will receive $15,000 from U.S. Bank, $10,000 from Louisville-based Houston-Johnson, Inc. and $10,000 from Metro United Way to support outreach efforts.