Cities Working to Boost College Completion Visit Riverside to Discuss Sustainability Plans

November 12, 2012

By Tim Mudd

Riverside, Calif., Mayor Ron Loveridge

From left: Dr. Cynthia Azari, President of
Riverside Community College; Councilmember
and Mayor-Elect Rusty Bailey; Mayor Ron
Loveridge; Dr. Wendel Tucker, former
Superintendent, Alvord Unified School District

NLC Past President Ronald O. Loveridge, mayor of Riverside, CA, welcomed cross-sector teams from 15 cities to his city last week for the penultimate meeting of the Communities Learning in Partnership initiative. Sponsored by NLC's Institute for Youth, Education and Families, the meeting focused on strategies for sustaining local efforts to increase college completion rates.

For the past several years, cities participating in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Communities Learning in Partnership (CLIP) and Partners for Postsecondary Success initiatives have been working to implement comprehensive approaches to improve the postsecondary success rates of local students. NLC serves as managing intermediary for CLIP, providing in-depth technical assistance to the initiative's four implementation sites: New York City; Mesa, AZ; Riverside, CA; and San Francisco, CA.

At last week's meeting, local teams of municipal, school district, and higher education leaders focused on Five Essential Elements of Sustainability, a cross-cutting framework developed by NLC to help city teams plan for the long term. The framework's elements include:

  • Identifying what is essential to reach goals;
  • Measuring and reporting progress for public accountability and initiative management;
  • Building on strengths;
  • Assessing and building capacity; and
  • Enlisting champions, including individuals who can sustain local efforts during leadership and staff transitions.

Serving as a prism to analyze challenges and lessons for sustainability, Riverside leaders showcased their systematic efforts to align strategies and programs of the Riverside City College, Alvord Unified School District, Riverside Unified School District, University of California at Riverside, the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and municipal and county agencies through the Completion Counts initiative.

Riverside officials emphasized the importance of building community commitment, strategic use of data, and a simplified model of decision-making and accountability. Completion Counts efforts are coordinated through a three-tied organizational structure led by an executive committee chaired by the mayor, followed by a core group led by the Completion Counts director, and supported by five technical working groups that are led by teachers and community college instructors.

In addition to the CLIP implementation sites, seven participating teams represented CLIP affiliate cities, including Boston, MA; Dayton, OH; Jacksonville, FL; Louisville, KY; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; and Portland, OR. Also participating in the meeting were representatives of cities involved in the Partnerships for Postsecondary Success initiative - which include Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, and Amarillo and Brownsville, TX.

Details:  Learn more about the Communities Learning in Partnership initiative or contact Carmella Mazzotta at (202) 626-3009 or mazzotta@nlc.org for more information.