October 25, 2016
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Business Initiative Targets Low-Income Students

 WASHINGTON  -- The Committee for Economic Development (CED) has been awarded a  $1.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch the Business Champions for Postsecondary Student Success initiative.  The three-year grant will be used to recruit and engage business leaders into the effort to improve the educational attainment of all students, particularly low-income youth, and increase the number with valuable postsecondary degrees or certificates.

Jeffrey Joerres, CED Trustee and the Chairman and CEO, Manpower, Inc. said, "This marks CED's formal entree into the postsecondary education policy arena.  More of today's jobs demand ever-higher levels of education and skills – not only jobs in high-tech or traditionally white-collar industries, but all jobs.  American workers are the most productive in the world, but they are in danger of losing their education advantage.  Now is the time to reach out to business leaders across the country to engage them in the effort to raise education levels for everyone entering the American work force."  

CED will develop a cadre of business champions through the Business Champions for Postsecondary Student Success effort.  CED will recruit advocates for reform at the national and state levels.  Postsecondary education has become the threshold requirement for a middle-class family income.  The ability of individuals to connect education, training, and careers has become essential to employability and to attaining and maintaining middle class status.  Success by individual standards - and by industry standards - is intimately tied to levels of employability and, by default, postsecondary education attainment.  The business sector on a regular basis faces challenges related to employability. 

CED believes that American postsecondary education – an engine of growth and opportunity for so long – is faltering.  Business engagement is necessary to advance policy reforms that will improve the postsecondary education achievements of all students, specifically low-income youth, and increase the number who achieve postsecondary degrees or certificates that are valuable in the marketplace.  Postsecondary degree attainment has been a major factor in driving economic productivity gains over the last 40 years.  This effort is critical to promote and sustain long-term economic development. 

"The business leaders of CED are uniquely qualified to assist in the development of resources for economic wealth and economic development within our country.  Any corporate executive knows that quality postsecondary educational opportunities for students will lead to a quality workforce and good jobs for those workers," said Donald Peterson, CED Co-Chair and the former CEO of Avaya, Inc.  

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