Florida Philanthropic Network Calls for Statewide Goal for Post-Secondary Education Attainment

CollegeCompletion

Philanthropic organizations in Florida care deeply about our state’s education outcomes. They know that a quality education can improve Floridians’ lives in vital ways, and greatly enhance the overall well-being of our communities.

That is why Florida Philanthropic Network (FPN), through our Education Funders Affinity Group, has announced our support for establishing a statewide goal to have 60% of working-age Floridians possess post-secondary degrees or certifications by the year 2025.

FPN, a statewide association working to strengthen and grow philanthropy, recognizes that Florida’s future economic health is tied directly to the skills attained by Florida’s students in post-secondary education. State and national workforce projections predict that over 60% of Florida jobs will require some form of postsecondary education or training by the year 2020, yet currently only 38% of working-age Floridians hold an associate’s degree or higher.

This is an economic competitiveness issue for the state. In today’s global economy, competition for talent is intense, and Florida ranks just 29th among the states in post-secondary attainment. Educational attainment must improve if our state is to attract more technological industries and higher-wage jobs.

Post-secondary education attainment is also tied directly to a person’s quality of life. Studies show that, in general, the higher the education level a person achieves, the more likely he or she is to be employed and to earn a living wage and the less likely he or she is to be dependent on public assistance.

FPN knows that achieving a goal of 60% post-secondary attainment won’t be easy. As reported by the Florida College Access Network, between 2000 and 2012, Florida has increased its degree attainment rate 5.7 percentage points, from 32.4% to 38.1%. Although this trend is positive, the slow growth — a little less than 0.5% annually on average — is well below that of most other economically developed nations and is one of the reasons why we’re losing ground in the proportion of college-educated workers. If Florida continues at this same growth rate, we’ll have a post-secondary attainment rate of about 43% in 2025 — far short of the 60% goal. So we all need to figure out ways to step up our efforts — philanthropy included.

FPN’s Education Funders Affinity Group (EAG) is comprised of FPN members who share an interest in supporting education issues, organizations and needs in Florida. The EAG offers Florida’s education funders a space to learn and share together on improving the state’s education outcomes, and to be a voice for Florida philanthropy on key education policy issues.

Through the EAG, FPN members are committed to working together to use their full set of resources, beyond their financial support, to achieve the statewide goal of 60% post-secondary attainment by 2025. This can include efforts to increase awareness, serve as neutral conveners, partner with key stakeholders, and address key policy issues required to raise the level of post-secondary attainment in the state. Working together toward this goal will help ensure that Florida’s workforce is competitive and successful and that all Floridians have the opportunity to achieve career success.

To learn more, please read FPN’s new position paper, which further explains our support for a 60% statewide attainment goal in Florida and for related policy issues.

– David Biemesderfer, President & CEO, Florida Philanthropic Network. Follow me at @DBiemesderfer.

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