Kresge president says community colleges can transform educational and economic future

February 12, 2013

America’s community colleges can help fuel a new education-led era of national prosperity as they help launch a better life for low-income people, Rip Rapson, president of The Kresge Foundation told more 1,600 college educators and leaders gathered in California.

With their focus on students from all walks of life, community colleges hold the power to transform the nation’s educational and economic future, Rapson said.

His remarks came as he presented the 2013 Leah Meyer Austin Award at the annual meeting of Achieving the Dream to South Texas College and its president, Shirley Reed.  South Texas College has bolstered post-secondary academic success in a region where 40 percent of all adults have no high school diploma or high school equivalency degree.

The award is named for a former senior vice president of Lumina Foundation who helped start is the national Achieving the Dream. The award includes $25,000 to the school to support student success.

Kresge’s Education Program supports Achieving the Dream, which helps more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Kresge has invested more than $5.5 million in Achieving the Dream since 2007. The foundation’s Education Program focuses on expanding student access to higher education and opening avenues to academic success.

Achieving the Dream is in place at almost 200 colleges with about 3.75 million students in 32 states.  Kresge underwrites Achieving the Dream in almost 20 colleges in California, Florida, Maine, Michigan and Washington.

In addition to the hundreds of U.S.-based educators and officials, representatives of colleges in South Africa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands attended the four-day conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Read the full text of Rapson’s address.