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October 5, 2010

White House Summit focuses on community colleges

Today the White House held its first White House Summit on Community Colleges to discuss the instrumental role these institutions play to boost college completion rates. The Summit is an important next step to meet the President’s goal of having the best-educated, most

Seond Lady Dr. Jill Biden addresses the summit attendees and the nation via

competitive workforce in the world by the end of the year 2020.

Albert Ojeda, a student who attended two HACU-member institutions, was among the student voices at the Summit. He shared his story about the positive impact that community college has had on his education. Ojeda, a transfer student from Estrella Mountain Community College, is currently a senior at Arizona State University majoring in political science.

During the Summit the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced the Completion by Design grant program. Through the program the foundation will spend $35 million over five years to increase the graduation rates of community college students. The program will award competitive grants to groups of community colleges to aid in the process of making the colleges more accessible to students.

The Aspen Institute, a Washington-based not-for-profit, private research organization, also announced the Skills for America’s Future partnership, which will help retrain workers for jobs that are in demand and better align courses offered at community colleges with the skills needed by today’s workforce.

HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores was among those who attended the summit and participated in the break-out session on Affordability: Financial Aid to Community College Students.

HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis during the summit.

“It was a privilege to be a part of this group of fellow advocates in education at today’s historic White House Summit,” said Flores. “Community colleges make up for 38 percent of HACU’s membership and the Summit provided an encouraging dialogue and rich discussions on how we can work together to address the challenges faced by community colleges to plan for the future of this nation.”

At the closing of the Summit, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced a community college training initiative where more details about grants will be available at the end of the month.  

Many community colleges have expressed interest in hosting their own satellite summits and events in their schools and communities. The White House has created a toolkit that can be downloaded. Download Toolkit.