St. Louis, Missouri Education Partnership
When he was developing his city's postsecondary success agenda, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay knew that a regional approach would be crucial. Colleges that educate and businesses that hire may be in neighboring towns, and creating partnerships across localities and sectors presented an opportunity to align educational goals with industry needs. Postsecondary success has become a priority given the fact that the city ranks in the bottom third of comparable metro areas in four-year degree completion. A large achievement gap exists in St. Louis, as the city ranks 33rd out of 35 similar cities in four-year degree attainment among African-Americans. College graduates make 156% more than high school graduates in Missouri, and with the future of St. Louis' economy resting on sectors that require postsecondary experience, including healthcare and biotechnology, a college-educated population is vital to St. Louis' long-term economic success.
To reach its goal of having 50% of its region's residents attain a postsecondary degree by 2020, the Mayor's Office began convening a Regional Education Partnership in 2005. With local business, nonprofit, and education leaders discussing how to best increase postsecondary accessibility, these efforts soon coalesced into a larger regional partnership. In late 2008, the St. Louis Regional College Access Pipeline formed with the support and membership of local funders, business leaders, educators, and state-level policymakers. Now called St. Louis Graduates, the program works towards its goal by building a data-informed agenda, advocating for low-income students, and convening stakeholders for analysis of progress. By convening bi-monthly peer exchanges between postsecondary education providers, St. Louis Graduates makes on-the-ground improvements in educational outcomes.