Detroit Drives Degrees Gleans Lessons from Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland to Increase Local Graduation Rates

Last month, the Detroit Regional Chamber hosted representatives from the Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland to gain insight on establishing a community-wide compact to improve education attainment. The Chamber is exploring the development of a similar pact in Detroit through its Detroit Drives Degrees (D3) initiative.

The success of the Cleveland Compact is promising: Since the initiative began in 2011, Cleveland Metropolitan School District students have seen a 13 percent increase in on-time high school graduation rates and has made progress in increasing graduation rates from four-year universities.

Maggie McGrath is the executive director of the Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland. Over the past five years, she has worked with Cleveland leaders to improve college readiness, access and success. Through the Compact’s public dashboard, the community can track their progress, better understand challenges within the education system, and develop solutions to address those challenges. The Compact has earned the support of the mayor, community colleges, universities, and a range of community partners.

The D3 Leadership Council, which is comprised of regional leaders in education, business, philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, is excited about adopting the Cleveland model in the Detroit region with the aim of generating similar gains in degree attainment. D3 staff will lay further groundwork for this project and continue discussions with partners about next steps this summer.

The goal of D3 is to increase the number of individuals with postsecondary accreditation to 60 percent by 2025. Currently, 43 percent of working-age adults in Michigan have a quality postsecondary credential. The only way to accomplish the 60 percent goal is by advancing access to postsecondary opportunities, strengthening student success and graduation rates, and improving both talent retention and attraction. The lack of educated talent in our region has a major impact on the local economy. Research shows that just a 1 percent increase in the four-year college attainment rate is associated with a $1,100 per year increase in average incomes throughout a metropolitan area.

For more information or to get involved contact Melanie D’Evelyn, D3’s manager of education attainment, at