AURORA, IL - The City of Aurora is proud to join a new peer-learning cohort led by the National League of Cities (NLC) to remove barriers to basic needs that often prevent college students from successfully completing postsecondary degrees, certificates, or other credentials needed to gain access to rewarding careers.
Aurora joins twelve other cities from across the nation to engage in monthly peer-to-peer virtual learning opportunities and receive tailored technical assistance from NLC's staff and national content experts to help advance the city's efforts in supporting local students.
"We need to be able to provide all students with the best educational opportunities in order to ensure they are able to find the best career opportunities and serve as active members of our community," said Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin.
Aurora's local planning team includes postsecondary institution partner Waubonsee Community College and community partners the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Aurora Education Commission, comprised of 21 leaders from public, private and college-level schools in Aurora.
One of the Commission's responsibilities is to identify "opportunities for the City and our academic partners to work collaboratively in joint policy development and in strategy development and alignment that results in innovative approaches to our area's educational service delivery system."
With support from NLC, the Aurora team will primarily focus on access to technology in completing postsecondary education degrees. The group's short-term goal is to gather data to support the investment in technology access for Aurora students, and the long-term goal is to bring all students online seamlessly and successfully.
"Waubonsee Community College is thrilled to partner with the City of Aurora," said Christine Sobek, President of Waubonsee Community College and Vice-Chair of the Aurora Education Commission. "This program enhances the work that Waubonsee and the City of Aurora engage in regularly to remove barriers within our community and encourage students to attain postsecondary education credentials."
A postsecondary credential leading to career pathways that pay a living wage is essential in today's economy. Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce found in 2016 that Americans with some type of postsecondary credential earn 25% more on average over their lifetimes than those with only a high school degree or less. Moreover, individuals with some college education captured all but 100,000 of the 11.6 million net new jobs created during the 2010-2016 economic recovery.
"As high levels of educational attainment are directly linked to a city's economic vitality and well-being, there is a great incentive for municipal leaders to support and promote postsecondary credential attainment, said Audrey Hutchinson, Director of Education and Expanded Learning at the National League of Cities. "The National League of Cities is proud to work with the City of Aurora in addressing the basic needs of postsecondary students in Aurora.
The cohort program runs from September 2020 through September 2021, with additional support through 2022, and is generously supported by ECMC Foundation.
"I am impressed by the potential of this planned cooperative venture of the City and Waubonsee Community College to enhance postsecondary educational opportunities and provide access to employment and economic development for all of the City's young people," said Dr. Jeff Craig, superintendent of West Aurora School District 131 and Chair of the Aurora Education Commission.
Other participating cities include Akron, OH; Arlington, TX; Jacksonville, FL; Orlando, FL; Las Vegas, NV; Tempe, AZ; Mesa, AZ; Newark, NJ; Richmond, CA; Rancho Cordova, CA; St. Louis, MO; and Winston-Salem, NC.