October 2, 2020

Wayne State University signs on to Detroit Regional Talent Compact, roadmap to addressing alarming education data and COVID-19 disruption

More than 35 statewide and regional partners have adopted the shared goals to increase postsecondary degree attainment to 60% and reduce the racial equity gap by half by 2030.

New partnership includes action plans from state of Michigan and regional business, education, and philanthropic organizations   

DETROIT, October 2, 2020 – Wayne State University joined partners in government, business, education and philanthropy by signing on to the Detroit Regional Talent Compact. The compact — a collective impact effort led by the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees initiative — is a 10-year roadmap for rebuilding the workforce talent pipeline in Southeast Michigan.

“This agreement moves Wayne State University forward in our steadfast commitment to the citizens of Detroit and their postsecondary credential attainment goals,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. “Wayne State pledges to continue to be part of the solution of driving degree attainment in the Detroit region, and with the help of our partners, we can rebuild a robust talent pipeline to fuel 21st century workforce needs.”

More than 35 statewide and regional partners have adopted the shared goals to increase postsecondary degree attainment to 60% and reduce the racial equity gap by half by 2030. Each partner has created an individual action plan to achieve these goals. The compact represents a new level of collaboration in this critical area.

“The State of Education report we released last December was alarming, and COVID-19 will only make things worse if we don’t take action to increase the highly skilled talent in our region,” said Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “These times call for a new strategy and unprecedented collaboration. The Detroit Regional Talent Compact is a blueprint to create a more robust and inclusive talent pipeline to drive economic growth as we navigate the impact of the pandemic in the decade that follows.”

The State of Education report highlighted that:

  • Forty-seven percent of Detroit regional students who pursue postsecondary education have not earned a degree or certificate within six years of graduating from high school.
  • Further, the region has some of the largest gaps between white and Black college graduation rates in the country, with 60% of white students and only 26% of Black students graduating (based on six-year graduation rates).
  • Only 17% of individuals without a college degree earned a family-sustaining wage in the region, and 69% of city of Detroit residents ages 18-64 without a high school diploma are either not in the labor force or unemployed.

The Detroit Regional Talent Compact includes a Regional Master Plan composed of four major focus areas – increasing postsecondary access, postsecondary success, adult educational attainment and talent preparation. Seventeen specific strategies — many of which are national best practices — have been identified to assist in meeting the stated goals. Each partner organization created a plan targeting one or more of the focus areas using the identified strategies. The partners’ plans use innovative techniques and unprecedented collaborative approaches to reach the compact’s 2030 goals. Some highlights include:

  • Reducing the racial equity gaps by half. In order to achieve this goal, more than 90,000 Black and 15,000 Latinx students will need to earn degrees in the next decade. Combined, this represents 40% of the new 265,000 projected and additional degrees Detroit residents of all races and ethnicities need to earn by 2030. The compact consists of the strategic framework to reach these racial equity goals by implementing proven and targeted supports to students who need it most.
  • Developing a higher education agenda to increase degree and credential completion. Twelve postsecondary institutions and associations committed to education reforms such as offering a postsecondary transition course to high schoolers to help students avoid falling behind in college or expanding debt forgiveness to reduce barriers for returning adult students.
  • Unprecedented collaboration between Macomb, Oakland, Wayne Intermediate School Districts, Detroit Public Schools Community District, and a coalition of charter school groups to incentivize full- and part-time students to maximize credits. K-12 stakeholders pledged to implement best practices to increase early postsecondary options and provide comprehensive college and career advising curriculums. Notably, the Detroit Charter High School Collaborative committed to having 90% of their high school graduates earn a full year’s worth of college coursework by 2030.
  • Increasing the number of employers providing tuition assistance to employees. Many business signatories of the compact committed to building new or expanding existing tuition assistance programs, and some are going so far as to also offer loan forgiveness programs for employees with student debt. This is significant, as most experts predicted COVID-19 would cause employers to scale back these kinds of benefits.
  • For the first time, philanthropic partners have created a coordinated framework to fund the strategies outlined in the compact. This collectively represents more than $18 million in aligned giving to the four focus areas outlined in the Regional Master Plan.

The Chamber team will continue to recruit additional partners to sign on to the Detroit Regional Talent Compact, which is necessary in order to achieve the 2030 goals. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her administration adopted the Chamber’s “60% by 2030” goal last year, and the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity submitted a strategic plan to improve the overall education attainment for the State of Michigan.

Businesses and other organizations looking to become a Detroit Regional Talent Compact partner can visit detroitchamber.com/compact.  


Ted Montgomery
Phone: 248-880-6838
Email: tedmontgomery@wayne.edu

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