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St. Louis Graduates, Regional Chamber consolidate efforts to help St. Louisans graduate from college

Field of students at a graduation
j.o.h.n. walker | Flickr

St. Louis has been selected by a national education organization for aid increasing the number of adults with college degrees in the region.

The Lumina Foundation wants 60 percent of Americans to have postsecondary degrees by 2025. The foundation is partnering with St. Louis Graduatesand the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerceto further their existing efforts towards that goal.

 To that end, Lumina is giving St. Louis training, advice and $120,000.

St. Louis Graduates' new co-chairs, Allison Williams and Alan Byrd, will be working with Anne Klein of the St. Louis Regional Chamber on the new collaboration. Klein was hired by the chamber three months ago to spearhead their educational efforts.

“The business community sees that if we are to grow and attract new talent, attract new businesses having those bachelor degrees and that educated workforce is essential,” Klein explained, adding that the biggest impact the chamber can have on postsecondary education is to shine a spotlight on its importance to the region.

According to Williams the new partnerships with Lumina and the regional chamber will further St. Louis Graduates’ existing efforts to build community networks.

“It really is a stay the path,” Williams said. “Think of it as we were at 1.0 and now we’re working to get to 2.0.”

Williams and Byrd will become co-chairs of St. Louis Graduates in April. Williams is in charge of programing at the Wyman Center, which focuses on teen outreach. Byrd is dean of enrollment at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

According to Byrd, advocating for more need-based financial aid will be one way the nonprofit coalition continues its mission.

“We definitely want to see a shift in state aid to focus more on need-based aid. And then also working with the colleges and universities to have more balance in how they spend their institutional funds in between merit and need,” Byrd said.

Another priority, said Williams, will be improving K-12 education so that students are better prepared for college.

Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.