We at the St. Louis Regional Chamber know that one of the surest paths to personal economic prosperity and regional workforce preparedness is through increased educational attainment. That is why we are excited to join St. Louis Graduates, along with five regional higher education partners, in an initiative to increase postsecondary attainment in the St. Louis region.
The Lumina Foundation and Kresge Foundation have designated St. Louis as one of seven Talent Hub communities in the nation. St. Louis has been recognized for setting rigorous standards to create an environment that attracts, retains, and cultivates talent, particularly among today’s students, many of whom are people of color, the first in their families to go to college, and from low-income households. Each Talent Hub focuses intensively on raising the nation’s overall post-high school attainment level to 60 percent of working-age adults by 2025. Each community designated as a Talent Hub will receive $275,000 in grant funding over 31 months. Grant funding will support local efforts to educate more people, allowing community and education leaders to better meet the specific needs of residents. Lumina will provide these funds in partnership with Kresge.
The St. Louis Regional Chamber is joined in its Talent Hub work by St. Louis Graduates, its partner in the Lumina Foundation’s Community Partnership for Attainment, along with St. Louis Community Foundation, which serves as the fiscal sponsor for St. Louis Graduates. The five higher education institutions are partners in the St. Louis Talent Hub are Maryville University, Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO), University of Central Missouri (UCM), University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), and Webster University.
The Talent Hub work builds on the research in Degrees with Less Debt: Effective Higher Education Strategies for Underrepresented Student Populations, a report commissioned by St. Louis Graduates and published in 2016. It includes efforts to build out campus-based institutional student supports among five higher education partners and to foster replication of effective practice through a new learning institute engaging postsecondary professionals across Missouri.
The initiative also advances core strategies of the St. Louis Regional Education Commitment – a shared postsecondary agenda to increase postsecondary attainment in the St. Louis region. The work of the Talent Hub is aligned to specific objectives called out in the Commitment that are focused on making college more accessible, improving institutional policy and practice to support more students in completing postsecondary credentials, and expanding internship opportunities.
“We are excited to participate in an effort with St. Louis Graduates and higher education institutions to advance core strategies of the St. Louis Regional Education Commitment – our shared postsecondary agenda aligned to the goal of increasing educational attainment and building the kind of talent base our region needs to thrive and prosper,” said St. Louis Regional Chamber President and CEO Tom Chulick. “This broad cross-sector collaboration aligning to a shared goal of postsecondary equity is what our region needs. It is what winning looks like for St. Louis. We appreciate the Lumina and Kresge foundations for recognizing the great work underway in our community and for committing resources to support key strategies that will make a critical difference.”
St. Louis’ newfound status as a Talent Hub is one of many steps we and our partners are taking to make the region a welcoming place to live, work, and learn for all residents. Not only will increased education attainment improve the quality of life for people in the region, but it will ensure a strong workforce ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow. We look forward to the work ahead.