Nearly 60 percent of newly-created jobs require a postsecondary degree, yet only six percent of Cleveland residents hold an associate's degree and just eight percent hold a bachelor's degree.
This stark statistic is one of the driving forces behind the fledgling Higher Education Compact
of Greater Cleveland, an unprecedented collaboration among 15 colleges and universities, 25 nonprofit organizations, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and Cuyahoga County. This new effort seeks to boost the number of college graduates in Northeast Ohio.
"Every day, there are 3,000 jobs that the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and Summa Health Center can't fill," explains Lee Friedman, CEO of College Now Greater Cleveland
, a member organization of the Compact. "If you can't increase educational attainment, then you can't fill jobs. At some point, if these organizations can't find talent, then they can't grow."
While this lofty goal is hardly unusual or unique, what makes the Compact stand out is its regional approach towards addressing the higher education gap. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson is increasingly touting the benefits of addressing such problems on a regional level. Cuyahoga County has not historically been involved in education, yet Executive Ed Fitzgerald has joined the Compact. The Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) has also been working with the region's colleges and universities as part of the Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend to seek a comprehensive solution to this problem.
"It truly takes a village to help students get to school and graduate from school," says Friedman. "Many of the young people we're helping are first generation college students who don't have anyone to help them get on that path. The commitment of these university presidents is truly best in class."
The goal of the Higher Education Compact is to ensure that students are ready for, have access to and graduate from college. To achieve this goal, leaders will create student-focused action plans, educate the community on why college is important, help students become college ready, link them with scholarship and financial aid opportunities and create a College Success Dashboard that measures results.
Source: Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland, Lee Friedman
Writer: Lee Chilcote