States have the ability to lead the way in transforming postsecondary education. Innovative governors, policy makers and institutions hold the power to rethink what’s not working and implement creative solutions. USA Funds® is helping states tap this creative potential by focusing philanthropic efforts on advancing the concept of Completion With a PurposeSM through a state strategy.
For example, Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri is partnering with USA Funds to make sure students have greater access to postsecondary opportunities that lead to degree and certification completion and eventually a rewarding careers. As a result of this partnership, USA Funds has awarded two $1 million grants to the state of Missouri. These grants will be used to implement competency-based learning in four of Missouri’s traditional universities and expand access to the state’s successful Innovation Campus approach on three campuses.
Missouri was an early leader in realizing the benefits of competency-based education. This model is a proven way for students to apply what they already know while gaining the skills and information necessary to earn a degree or certification. This model shortens time to degree and rethinks the idea that education must be a one size fits all proposition. Competency-based education also allows students of all ages to find a path to completion and a fulfilling career. As a result of Missouri’s leadership, traditional campuses have stepped up to offer this opportunity to students.
USA Funds also is supporting an approach that connects K-12 and postsecondary institutions with area employers to meet the demands of an ever-changing workforce. Launched in 2012 by Gov. Nixon, Innovation Campuses establish partnerships between local high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and area businesses. Innovation Campus partners provide high school students enrolled in these programs the opportunity to earn dual college credit through participating institutions. Students also have the opportunity to earn credit by completing internships with corporate partners in high-demand fields. This model puts students on the fast-track to jobs, shortening time to degree and reducing student debt.
Gov. Nixon has announced the colleges and universities selected to participate in these expanded initiatives.
USA Funds’ support of these two Missouri initiatives is intended to address the “40/50” challenge in higher education: Approximately 40 percent of students who enter college fail to finish, and approximately 50 percent of students who graduate from college are under- or unemployed, or report they would have chosen a different postsecondary program, if they had it to do all over again.
In addition to assisting these state-based laboratories for innovation in promoting more cost-effective delivery of higher education and strengthening linkages between education and employment, USA Funds will disseminate to other states the best ideas and the most impressive results from the states with which USA Funds partners.