• St. Louis Designated as a Talent Hub by Lumina Foundation

    May 31, 2018

    Talent hub web banner_500xWe 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.

    Talent hub partners

  • Making Access Missouri Truly Accessible

    Apr 24, 2018

    Building a quality talent base is the critical path forward for regional and statewide economic development.  In today’s competitive and global economy, much of that quality talent base requires a post-secondary education.  We have been pleased to see a number of state leaders challenge the proposed higher education cuts in Gov. Greitens’ proposed budget. In particular, we applaud Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick’s leadership in proposing a budget allocating an additional $37.6 million to our higher education institutions while proposing a $30 million dollar increase to our state’s only need-based scholarship program, Access Missouri. The proposed increase to Access Missouri is the right investment for our state at this crucial time in higher education.

    As college education costs continue to soar, aid available to support students with the greatest financial needs has declined. The St. Louis Regional Chamber’s education strategy—best captured in the St. Louis Regional Education Commitment — calls for increasing need-based aid.  Expanding the funds in Access Missouri by $30 million will help more students, particularly those with significant unmet need, pursue a post-secondary education.

    National research affirms the high impact of even small amounts of need-based aid in increasing educational attainment levels.  According to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, students who receive need-based grants are more likely to enroll and successfully complete college at a faster rate than their socioeconomic peers.  For students with the greatest need, financial aid is critical to their ability to successfully cross the finish line with their degree in hand. 

    With such a large increase to Access Missouri, we expect a larger aggregate shift in the number of people graduating with the kind of credentials that make Missouri attractive to business. These credentials also provide greater levels of earnings for individuals, thus leading to a greater tax base and more consumption of goods and services.

    After years of being underfunded and failing to keep up with the need, Rep. Fitzpatrick’s proposal is a positive step in the right direction. We hope that additional funding for Access Missouri will ensure that the average award for students increases above the current average of $1,600. We call upon his colleagues in the General Assembly to support funding that will lay a stronger foundation for building the talent base Missouri needs to compete for jobs now and in the future.