Community Colleges in the Spotlight

With 44% of all U.S. undergraduates enrolled in community college programs, the spotlight is finally hitting this population and shining light on the success that these programs have, not only in awarding degrees themselves, but in helping students graduate from 4-year schools.  Just last week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced $4 million in grants to help boost college graduation rates by tightening the coordination of efforts between cities and colleges to provide services to students.  Enrollment in the 1,200 U.S. community colleges is at an all-time high, nearly 11.7 million students, but two-thirds of those attending will not graduate within three years.  The grant is designed to encourage a range of agencies to help students overcome obstacles such as juggling work and school, raising children while attending classes, as well as academic challenges.

Two of the cities awarded grants were Mesa and Pheonix, AZ.  Each city houses one campus of the Maricopa Community Colleges, a system of 10 schools, which has already made huge strides in the area through their MAPP: Maricopa-ASU Pathways Program.  MAPP is designed to make the transition from community college to the 4-year state school more navigable by offering MCC students advisement by Arizona State University Transfer Advisors, opportunities for specific Transfer Scholarships, as well as guaranteed program admission at ASU.

The future of our city will be determined by our commitment to educating our youth.  Partnerships like this between the city, Maricopa Community Colleges, Phoenix Union High School District, and Arizona State University Vice President of Education Partnerships, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation play a central role in ensuring that our bright young students have the tools they need to earn a college degree and build a strong knowledge-based economy.

Pheonix Mayor Phil Gordon