Photo by Micaela Watts
Out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the nation, Memphis has the highest rate of “disconnected” youth — 18.7 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in a post-secondary education program or employment.
This sobering statistic is, in part, what drives the myriad of education reform organizations based in Memphis.
Now, three of those organizations, Graduate Memphis, Leadership Memphis, and the Memphis Area College President’s Council are collectively hosting an inaugural higher education forum which will take place on March 29th at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn from 7:30 a.m. until noon.
The forum, entitled “Cultivating Sustainable Change for Student Success”, will explore ways that the Memphis community can boost college access and complete their degrees. The intent aligns with the Shelby County Schools district’s goal of having 55 percent of Memphis adults holding a post-secondary degree or certification by the year 2025.
Senior director of Graduate Memphis Renee McCreight notes that research by the Detroit-based Kresge Foundation shows that the majority of first-generation college students and/or low-income students attend a post-secondary institution that is closest to home.
“This makes low college attainment a local problem that should be solved by those entities deeply invested in the community through collaboration,” says McCreight.
Two keynote speakers, Nicole Hurd, executive director of the College Advising Corps, and Bridget Burns, executive director of University Innovation Alliance, will be sharing their best practices for enhancing post-secondary education access in low-income areas.
“Everyone who attends this forum will walk away more informed,” McCreight says, adding that attendees will walk away with specific ideas and practices that are applicable in their own communities.
As for who constitutes a community, and who should be aligned in the efforts to increase education access, McCreight encourages community buy-in on a wide scale.
“Whether you represent the private sector, a non-profit organization, or a faith community, you are a community stakeholder and you have a role to play.”
The event is open to the public and free to attend, but registration is required.
The University of Memphis Holiday Inn is located at located at 3700 Central, on the north side of the main campus of the university.