Municipal Leadership for Postsecondary Success: Getting Started

With support from Lumina Foundation, NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families has developed a new series of publications highlighting city strategies to increase local college completion rates.  The series includes three municipal action guides on the following topics:

Also with support from Lumina Foundation, NLC commissioned an analysis by Professor Kenneth K. Wong of Brown University on the role that mayors are playing to support college access and completion in their cities.

In the last few years, municipal leaders in more than a dozen cities have launched new, multi-sector collaborations to dramatically increase the proportion of residents in their communities who obtain postsecondary degrees and credentials.  City officials are increasingly focused on postsecondary success as a core component of their economic development strategies.

The first guide in the series, Municipal Leadership for Postsecondary Success: Getting Started, outlines a set of action steps for city leaders who are concerned about low college completion rates and want to identify and advance solutions.  Local officials can convene leaders from community and technical colleges, public and private universities, school districts, community organizations, workforce boards and chambers of commerce to develop a more coordinated strategy to provide students with the supports and services they need to graduate with a postsecondary credential.

Key action steps include:

  • Conduct an inventory or scan of local college access and success efforts across sectors, institutions, and community partners;
  • Host consultative sessions to listen to the perspectives of various stakeholders;
  • Establish a leadership structure to guide and sustain college access and completion efforts;
  • Seek consensus regarding measurable outcomes and key benchmarks or milestones to assess progress;
  • Create data sharing agreements and protocols in order to assemble a fuller picture of the city's education pipeline;
  • Develop and implement action plans that have the potential to "move the needle" on college completion; and
  • Be persistent in raising awareness and celebrate early victories to build and sustain momentum.