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Kresge joins Detroit-area partners in cross-sector effort to increase college completion, decrease racial equity gaps


The Kresge Foundation recently joined 34 partners across the higher education, business, K-12, philanthropy and nonprofit sectors to sign the Detroit Regional Talent Compact, a 10-year roadmap to strengthen the area’s workforce pipeline by increasing postsecondary attainment and narrowing racial inequities.

The compact was unveiled on Friday during a digital panel discussion as part of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s  MPC20 Conversations series. Kresge President and CEO Rip Rapson moderated the discussion that included Tonya Allen, president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation, Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, Ora Pescovitz, president of Oakland University and KimArie Yowell, chief learning officer of Quicken Loans.

“Collaborations of this magnitude smartly beckon both introspection and an attentiveness to common purpose in advancing systemic changes that can help to eliminate inequitable outcomes among Black and Latinx students, and their peers,” said Rapson. “We are humbled to work alongside businesses, government, nonprofits and our philanthropic peers to seed the execution of these plans as they take root in Southeast Michigan.”

Students at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan celebrate Decision Day 2019.

The Southeast Michigan region has some of largest equity gaps in graduation rates with only 26% of Black students graduating within six years compared to 60% of white students. This troubling finding was included in the Detroit Regional Chamber’s State of Education report released last December. The report, funded by Kresge’s Education Program, served as a call to action for leaders across sectors to take measurable steps that improve educational outcomes, particularly among students of color.

“Equity is extraordinarily important to us,” added Allen. “When it comes to college completion, there is a big racial gap between African Americans and white students. This is our time to solve this talent divide.”

Detroit Drives Degrees, the Chamber’s collective impactive initiative focused on improving the talent pipeline, stewarded the development of the compact. A masterplan will guide efforts to achieve two postsecondary attainment goals: 1) reach 60% degree or credential attainment by 2030 and 2) close the racial equity gap by half in that same time period.

Each compact signatory developed specific actions plans and will work together to measurably improve educational outcomes and, in turn, strengthen the workforce pipeline in the Southeast Michigan region.

In addition to support for Detroit Drives Degrees, Kresge’s support for postsecondary access and success efforts in the region spans across the college-going continuum. This includes support for the Detroit College Access Network’s partnership with GetSchooled, a national college access organization that provides college advising for current high school students. Additionally, as part of the national Talent Hubs initiative (funded in partnership with Lumina Foundation), Kresge supports regional efforts to expand debt forgiveness programs that reengage students who earned college credits but left before earning a degree.

To learn more about the Detroit Regional Talent Compact, or to join, please contact Melanie D’Evelyn, director of education and talent initiatives, at [email protected].