Detroit Regional Chamber > Mackinac Policy Conference > Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Announces $20M Investment in Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees Community College Collaborative, Partnership with Ballmer Group

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Announces $20M Investment in Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees Community College Collaborative, Partnership with Ballmer Group

June 2, 2022

Key Takeaways 

  • The Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees Community College Collaboration (D3C3) is guided by the principles of strengthening study-ready colleges and systems and pathways to education opportunities that lead to economic prosperity and family-sustaining wages. 
  • The collaboration cuts across multiple sectors, specifically higher education, employers, and philanthropy. 
  • The work of colleges participating in D3C3 aligns with the goals of Detroit Drives Degrees – increasing the postsecondary attainment rate to 60% and reducing the racial equity gap in half, both by 2030.  

 width=The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s Executive Director David Egner moderated a panel and facilitated the announcement of $20 million from the foundation to elevate community colleges supporting the region’s postsecondary credential production and student support. Panelists represented the sectors that will work closely together in the Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees Community College Collaborative (D3C3), the publicly announced initiative to advance the talent pipeline transformation in southeast Michigan. Participants were Dante Boutell, vice president, Powertrain Design Division, Toyota North America; Curtis Ivery, chancellor, Wayne County Community College District; Kim Trent, deputy director of prosperity, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Development Opportunity; and Kylee Mitchell Wells, executive director, Southeast Michigan, Ballmer Group.  

This is a significant investment in the participating colleges to focus on transformational work to strengthen the region’s talent pipeline through designated clusters.  

“What I love about D3C3 is that it’s a way to centralize a decentralized system,” said Mitchell Wells about Michigan’s higher education system. “I’m hoping we can all work together to have more centralization to have better outcomes in the region.”

D3C3 is divided into three clusters of work – student success, K-12 alignments, and employer-led sector pathways.  

Referring to this groundbreaking investment, Ivery echoed Mitchell Wells’ excitement for the initiative.  

“This is a huge a step in the right direction. Eighty-five percent of jobs will require some education beyond high school.”  

Trent shared how Michigan is addressing the statewide talent gap and supports local goals.  

 width=“We need to have 60 percent of our working adults in Michigan to have a postsecondary credential, whether that be an associate’s degree or certificate,” she said, referring to the Chamber’s goal for the region, later adopted by the state. “We need to be a state where people make enough money.” 

Boutell shared his experience as an employer of talent in the region. He referenced the importance of human capital and how it is the most important resource and will continue to be the rise and fall of any company.  

“The pipeline is only as strong as its weakest link. That pipeline has to be straight and flowing,” he said.  

Additionally, Trent stated she appreciated the conversation is happening broadly as the talent gap has not always been a top priority for the state.  

“Everyone in this room has a role to play, whether it’s philanthropy, the media, or our school systems,” sharing that all must work together to communicate and evaluate their current institutions if we are to see results locally and within Michigan.  

In addition to the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the Ballmer Group partners with the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Detroit Drives Degrees Community College Collaborative.