From the White House to Goldman Sachs, Community Colleges Are Getting More Support

Posted By Eliana Osborn on April 28, 2016 at 12:17 pm
From the White House to Goldman Sachs, Community Colleges Are Getting More Support

Individual states are creating free community college programs left and right, recognizing the pay-offs for their economic futures. While the efforts are varied, most focus on erasing the gap between federal aid and actual costs of attendance. Now the Obama administration is doing more than talk about free college with a $100 million investment. And, even Wall Street is getting involved and increasing its support for community colleges.

The Goldman Sachs Foundation’s initiative 10,000 Small Businesses has provided funding to community colleges in the past with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and business education. More than 5,500 individuals have participated since the program began with a $500 million investment.

GSF’s most recent community college-related giving involves LaGuardia Community College and a $1 million grant. Goldman Sachs Gives is the source of these funds, provided on a matching basis to communities. LaGuardia previously received another $2 million from GS for work on college completion issues.

Nine other community colleges have received funds from GSF Community College Fund. These schools had to compete for awards and will have to raise matching amounts. The American Association of Community Colleges notes, in a joint press release, that GSG funds will go to scholarships at the different campuses. These include Borough of Manhattan Community College, Community College of Baltimore County, Community College of Philadelphia, Gateway Technical College, Lane Community College, Metropolitan Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Odessa College, and St. Louis Community College.

From the White House, more money is being pledged to community colleges. America’s Promise Grants will be available to “help communities catalyze new and strengthen existing partnerships and programs to offer more Americans access to the knowledge and skills they need to pursue their educational and career goals, particularly in high-growth sectors like technology, manufacturing, and health care.”

Vice President Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden announced the $100 million program of competitive grants at the Community College of Philadelphia. The overarching America’s College Promise, introduced by President Obama in 2015, brought the national discussion of free college into the forefront of public policy.

America’s Promise Grants will open this summer and focus on creating new tuition-free opportunities for students to be trained in areas of higher job demand. The grants will be run by the Department of Labor, an acknowledgment of the need to partner employers and community colleges to ensure targeted learning.

With $100 million in additional funds available, states and colleges have a chance to implement ideas that may have appeared unachievable. Private sector investment in higher education continues as well, creating an exciting era of growth for community colleges and local economies.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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