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Increasing Education Attainment for Greater Economic Prosperity and Social Mobility

It’s no secret that economic prosperity and social mobility are linked to education. There are nearly 700,000 adults in the region with some college but no degree. In order to eventually reach economic equity our region has to engage adults in a significant way. Very often we see adults that dropped out before completing their degree. Twenty-one percent of adults who dropped out before completing their degree are Black, and 45% of adults who have remaining institutional (owed to the school attended) are Black as well. If these adults were to complete a degree or skilled certificate program, the education attainment in the region would increase to the Detroit Regional Chamber- and State of Michigan-backed goals of 60% and reduction of the racial equity gap by half by 2030.

Through research by the Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees, if our region doubles adult enrollmentand increase adult completion by 35% there would be significant economic impact. If the Detroit region reaches the 60% by 2030 goal, there will be an estimated ROI of $42 billion. Our region can get there by establishing regional scholarships for adults, expanding debt forgiveness programs, expanding accelerated adult friendly degree programs, and increasing employers providing upskilling incentives.

Programs like Detroit Reconnect, Futures for Frontliners and the like are already supporting such efforts. Providing equity can help problems like the fact that Black students account for 21% of regional “stop-outs” – students who drop out before finishing a degree – but they account for 45% of stop-outs with financial holds. A region-wide debt-forgiveness agreement would remove financial burdens that disproportionately affect Black students, allowing them to return to college with reduced or eliminated debt. To bridge this gap education attainment is important and can result in economic prosperity.

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