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Lumina Foundation for Education

February 2011

Lumina Foundation for Education As the largest U.S. foundation dedicated exclusively to increasing students' access to and success in postsecondary education, the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for Education is working to raise the percentage of Americans with high-quality, two- or four-year college degrees and credentials from 39 percent to 60 percent by 2025, an increase of 23 million graduates above current rates. The Foundation Center asked Lumina's president and CEO, Jamie P. Merisotis, to discuss the foundation's pursuit of this goal:

QuestionWhat would you like your colleagues in the field to know about why and/or how Lumina pursues its "big goal" of increasing the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025?

Answer"Simply put, we believe that achieving Goal 2025 is critical to the nation's future. Right now, less than 40 percent of the population has at least a two-year degree. That places us far down on the list of developed countries, many of which boast rates well above 50 percent — and their rates are climbing while ours remains stagnant. That simply can't continue if we hope to compete in the 21st century global marketplace. Enrolling and graduating more students from college — especially low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners — is absolutely vital to the long-term stability and security of our society as a whole.

"In his State of the Union speech, the president reiterated his call to boost college attainment and again make the U.S. the global leader in educating its citizens — and it can be done. Lumina Foundation's strategic plan lays out three critical outcomes that must occur for the Big Goal to be reached: students must be better prepared for college; once enrolled, they must get the support they need to succeed; and the higher education system must become more productive, so it can effectively serve many more students. In the same plan, Lumina identifies three ways we pursue these critical outcomes: by identifying and supporting effective practice, through public policy advocacy, and by using our communications and convening power to build public will for change. In short, we believe our plan is a blueprint for what needs to happen in the nation — supported through the work of Lumina and many others — in order to achieve that Big Goal of 60 percent attainment of high-quality degrees by 2025."

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