Why a Postsecondary Education is Unattainable For Many Young People

Municipal officials have a new opportunity to address food and housing insecurity and other basic needs that prevent many students from completing their postsecondary credentials. With a new grant awarded by The Kresge Foundation, the National League of Cities is launching a technical assistance initiative, Cities Addressing Basic Needs to Improve Postsecondary and Workforce Success.

NLC seeks to address this issue with the knowledge that removing barriers to postsecondary success is even more crucial for low-income students and students of color who are more likely to be left behind without bold interventions at the city level. This is part of an agenda to put equity front and center and ensure that no student is left behind.

In today’s economy, a high school diploma is not enough to produce a livable wage for a family to thrive. A postsecondary credential — a degree or a certificate leading to career pathways – is now a necessity. This educational attainment is tied to a city’s economic and workforce wellbeing Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce research shows that Americans with some type of postsecondary credential earn 25 percent more on average over their lifetimes than those with only a high school degree or less.

Too often, many young people attending two- or four-year colleges across the nation fall short of meeting their postsecondary goals because of basic unmet needs. Many young people in cities across our nation are challenged to reach their goal of completing a degree or a certificate because they lack basic needs such as food, stable housing, transportation or childcare. This is well-documented by Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab’s research on Hunger and Homelessness in College: Results from National Study of Basic Needs in Higher Education.  

Through this initiative, NLC will provide intensive technical assistance to six cities to develop policies, practices and programs that remove barriers to postsecondary attainment and workforce success. By participating in this initiative, cities will explore local education and workforce needs with an emphasis on creating equitable solutions for their communities.

NLC will work with participating cities to achieve the following goals:

  • Develop vision, goals and action plans;
  • Engage key partners to achieve desired results;
  • Use data to inform practice;
  • Confer with national experts and philanthropic leaders;
  • Document and share best practices and lessons learned; and
  • Connect mayors’ broader education and workforce development agendas.

Interested cities are invited to apply by September 13, 2019.  Please join NLC at 2 p.m. EST on August 7 or August 14 to learn more about the technical assistance opportunity and to ask questions of NLC staff. Call-in information: Dial 1 (773) 231-9226 and enter Meeting ID: 502 429 5174.

About the Author: Audrey M. Hutchinson, MSc., MPH is the Director of Education and Expanded Learning at the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.