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STLCC Chosen to Participate in Plus 50 Completion Strategy

May 17, 2011

For baby boomers who started college and began working toward a degree or certificate but didn’t finish, community colleges are revving up a new grant-funded initiative that will help them attain the credential.

St. Louis Community College was among 11 colleges recently selected by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to participate in the Plus 50 Completion Strategy.

The colleges involved with the initiative will strive to increase the number of students ages 50 and older, especially those with some prior college credits, to complete credentials and degrees that will help them get hired. The new completion effort builds on AACC’s Plus 50 Initiative, which has devoted the last three years to helping colleges improve services and support for baby boomers.

“As we continue to rebound from a deep economic downturn, mature workers will have increased opportunities to bring their many assets – work ethic, leadership and experience to name a few --  back into the workplace,” said Rod Nunn, STLCC’s vice chancellor for workforce and community development.  “We look forward to continuing to provide educational opportunities that allow older students to enhance their skill portfolios and ensure they have credentials of value to St. Louis employers.”

Walter G. Bumphus, AACC president and CEO, underscores the advantages of helping older learners continue their education.

“Learning is one of the best ways to stay and feel young, and community colleges are increasingly providing more support and services tailored to meet the needs of older students who want to come back to school,” Bumphus said. “Returning to college can help you upgrade your skills and make you more competitive in the job market.”

The credentials and degrees baby boomers will earn at the 20 colleges participating in the initiative are needed for the jobs of the future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 30 percent of the nation’s fastest-growing occupations will be filled by people who have a postsecondary education credential.

The Plus 50 Completion Strategy is part of a growing completion thrust among community colleges to promote the development and implementation of policies, practices and institutional cultures that will produce 50 percent more students with high quality degrees and certificates by 2020. President Barack Obama and leading foundations have identified community colleges as a key drive in achieving a higher percentage of college-prepared citizens for the nation.

The Plus 50 Completion Strategy is funded with a four-year grant from Lumina Foundation. The grant to AACC is part of a commitment by Lumina Foundation involving 19 organizations working strategically to help adult learners complete college. The Lumina Foundation grant builds on the successful Plus 50 Initiative launched by AACC in 2008 and funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies. Support from The Atlantic Philanthropies augments the new Plus 50 Completion Initiative.

The other 10 colleges selected are: Atlantic Cape Community College (Mays Landing, N.J.), Century College (White Bear Lake, Minn.), Hazard Community and Technical College (Hazard, Ky.), Monroe Community College (Rochester, N.Y.), Northeastern Junior College (Sterling, Colo.), Southern Arkansas University Tech (Camden, Ark.), Southwestern Illinois College (Belleville, Ill.), Spoon River College (Canton, Ill.), University of Alaska-Anchorage Community and Technical College (Anchorage, Alaska) and Wiregrass Georgia Technical College (Valdosta, Ga.).

The new grantees join nine community colleges previously announced as participants in the project. Previous selectees include: Cape Cod Community College (West Barnstable, Mass.), Clover Park Technical College (Lakewood, Wash.), College of Central Florida (Ocala, Fla.), Joliet Junior College (Joliet, Ill.), Metropolitan Community College (Lee’s Summit, Mo.), Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (Green Bay, Wisc.), Pasco-Hernando Community College (New Port Richey, Fla.), Santa Fe College (Gainesville, Fla.) and Wake Technical Community College (Raleigh, N.C.).

For more information about STLCC’s Plus 50 Initiative, contact Heather Ellison at hellison@stlcc.edu or 314-984-7842.