Las Vegas Sun

September 20, 2018

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Group selects Las Vegas in effort to boost education beyond high school

There’s a widening gap in Las Vegas between the available jobs and those who have the skills to fill those positions, according to data from McKinsey & Co. for U.S. News & World Report.

The data site indicates Nevada ranks ninth nationally for job growth, but 46th in educational attainment and 43rd in college readiness.

The Lumina Foundation, in partnership with the Kresge Foundation, hopes to bridge that gap by awarding $275,000 to Las Vegas for postsecondary education through its Talent Hubs program. Last year, 17 other cities joined the program, which aims to accelerate community attainment levels.

Talent Hubs works toward raising the nation’s post-secondary education levels to 60 percent by 2025, striving to eliminate disparities in educational outcomes for Native American, African-American and Latino populations, which fare poorly compared with white and Asian students.

The award was granted through the community partnerships between the College of Southern Nevada, Nevada System of Higher Education, the Governor’s Workforce Development Board, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation for a New Nevada, and United Way of Southern Nevada.

“Every institution in our community brings a different perspective,” said Marisol Ortega, program manager at United Way of Southern Nevada. “Bringing them all to the table, being able to share the expertise, the research — what is working and what is not working — and how we can implement better strategies. How can we bridge the gap for minority and low-income students so they can graduate at the same rate as our other students?”

The area’s post-secondary attainment levels are currently at 30 percent, Ortega said, and with the help of the grant, the goal is to raise the level to 40.1 percent in 2020 and 60 percent by 2025.

Communities designated as Talent Hubs receive the grant funding for 31 months to support efforts to educate target populations, according to Lumina Foundation statement. Las Vegas will have the grant from 2018 to 2020.

The local partners plan to integrate educational strategies based on proven practices implemented by CSN. Those practices include providing vulnerable populations with academic maps, preventive intervention for academically struggling students, academic and career advising, and more.

Additionally, the partnership will increase the scope of work-based learning programs including a Registered Apprenticeship Program and industry or work-based credentials programs.

“It has become ingrained in the culture of CSN to really help move the needle on completing more students with post-secondary credentials so they can go into a workforce that, hopefully, make their lives better or prepare them to transfer to a university to continue their higher education,” said James McCoy, associate vice president of academic affairs at CSN.

Post-secondary education doesn’t only mean a bachelor’s degree at a four-year university. It also includes an associate degree or certification program that students can use as a stepping stone to progress in the fields they’re already in or want to be in, McCoy said.

“We have added to the growing roster of top-flight cities committed to meeting the demands for an educated workforce,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, in a statement. “The Talent Hub designation serves both as an aspirational target for other cities and a foundation from which cities designated as Talent Hubs can build.”

The Lumina Foundation and Kresge Foundation have invested $10 million in Talent Hubs. Las Vegas is one of six communities to receive funding in 2018. Other new Talent Hubs include Corpus Christi, Texas; Detroit; Elkhart County, Ind.; Mobile, Ala.; Rio Grande Valley, Texas; and St. Louis.

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