Lumina Foundation Grant to Support Second Phase of NLC Postsecondary Success Initiative

October 18, 2012

By Tim Mudd

With support from Lumina Foundation, NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families (YEF Institute) is launching the second phase of an initiative to help cities boost local college completion rates. As part of this effort, NLC will provide more intensive technical assistance to up to six cities that have participated in a peer network on postsecondary success. 

Since 2010, the Municipal Leadership for Postsecondary Success initiative has stimulated and supported local collaborations to increase the rate and shorten the time within which residents finish higher education with a degree, certificate or other credential. The next phase of this project will focus on strengthening cities’ capacity to achieve significantly improved postsecondary completion results in collaboration with school districts, colleges, universities and other key local partners.

Increasing Postsecondary Completion Rates

In recent years, mayors and other municipal leaders have become increasingly attuned to the relationship between their economic development activities and the educational attainment rates of their local workforce. A growing number of cities have launched multi-sector collaborations to increase the proportion of residents who obtain postsecondary degrees and credentials.

The second phase of NLC’s Municipal Leadership for Postsecondary Success initiative will help cities consolidate their early gains and increase support for mayors who are active in the postsecondary success field. Through this initiative, NLC will:

  • Assist cities in constructively engaging businesses, philanthropies, and other partners;
  • Highlight city engagement strategies that have been most effective;
  • Work closely with a selected group of cities to provide in-depth technical assistance oriented toward clearly defined results; and
  • Build consensus around key measures for assessing the progress of place-based college completion efforts.

In addition, NLC will continue to foster peer learning through its Postsecondary Success City Action Network (P-SCAN) and expand the network’s membership. As key lessons emerge from local officials’ efforts, NLC will identify and share effective strategies with cities and towns across the nation. 

Early Successes

NLC’s peer networking opportunities in the first phase of the postsecondary success initiative supported many city-led efforts to improve students’ postsecondary outcomes. For example, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and city staff participated in a Mayors’ Institute on Children and Families sponsored by NLC, which helped the city form a multi-sector partnership, enhance services that promote college access and completion and launch a thorough community engagement plan. 

Regular peer network calls, two meetings of P-SCAN, and customized support helped newly-elected Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman of Las Vegas create a broad education agenda upon taking office.

In San Antonio, Mayor Julián Castro and other city leaders drew heavily upon NLC’s technical assistance, referrals and the experience of other cities participating in P-SCAN to advance its comprehensive college readiness, access and completion agenda. The networking opportunities and assistance also helped propel a citywide strategic planning process that led to the formation of a citywide College Access Network composed of local community-based organizations. The city’s participation in P-SCAN also supported initial efforts to align K-12 and postsecondary curricula and instruction.

Details: For more information about the Municipal Leadership for Postsecondary Success initiative, contact Marjorie Cohen at (202) 626-3053 or cohen@nlc.org.