In the 21st century global economy, Louisville is no longer just competing with Nashville and Indianapolis to attract high-quality jobs and the companies that offer them. High speed communication, global networking and rapidly changing technology mean Louisville needs to be competitive with cities throughout the world. And highly-desirable employers will not locate and expand in Louisville unless they know the city has the highly-skilled workforce to fill their jobs.
Added to this changing environment is the growing economic development gap between cities with high numbers of college graduates and those without. This quickly becomes a positive feedback loop for communities with higher levels of education as even more college graduates move to areas with stronger economies.
As Louisville moves away from its manufacturing-based economy of the 1970s and earlier, this makes education the key to Louisville’s future success. That’s why building our reputation as a city of lifelong learners is one of Mayor Greg Fischer’s main goals for Louisville.
“Education is the foundation of the economy,” said Fischer. “An educated workforce drives development and there’s a correlation between education and innovation. It’s also good for individuals, expanding their horizons and opening up new possibilities.”
Metro Government works every day to raise educational attainment and build a college-going – and college-completing – culture. This includes creating strategic partnerships with businesses and service providers, working to increase family involvement in education, and improving access to quality out-of-school programs, which have been shown to improve academic outcomes for students who participate on a regular basis.
Louisville Metro P-12 students are served by Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), the nation’s 28th largest school district. JCPS is governed by an independently-elected, non-partisan, seven-member school board. Louisville Metro Government has numerous partnerships and collaborative initiatives with JCPS to support of our mutual goal to have the best urban school district in America.
To support this ambitious agenda, the Mayor’s Office participates in a variety of projects that improve outcomes along the education pipeline, from making sure children enter kindergarten ready to learn to increasing the number of associate's and bachelor’s degrees in our community.
Louisville’s Education Pipeline:
The city is a major partner in three coordination networks along the pipeline – Grade Level Reading Louisville, the Louisville Out-of-School Time (OST) Coordinating Council, and 55,000 Degrees.
Louisville’s Grade Level Reading initiative
In July 2012, Louisville was named an All-America City by the National Civic League for an ambitious plan to help children read on grade level by the end of third grade. A multi-faceted effort, Louisville’s Grade Level Reading initiative coordinates community efforts to increase the number of students who are ready for kindergarten, participate in summer programs to maintain their academic skills, and attend school at least 95 percent of the time. Combined with JCPS' efforts to align its curricula with Common Core State Standards, this coordinated community response should result in better outcomes for students.
YouthPrint and the Out-of-School Time Coordinating Council
While Louisville is fortunate to have many quality out-of-school time programs, research by the Wallace Foundation shows that programs are more likely to positively affect youngsters if they are organized into a system that has a common vision, quality standards, measures and shared outcomes. To this end, the December 2010 YouthPrint report called for establishing an Out-of-School Time Coordinating Council and the recommendations outlined in YouthPrint became the basis of a plan submitted to the Wallace Foundation to fund creating such a system. In June 2012, Louisville Metro, Jefferson County Public Schools and Metro United Way began working with the Wallace Foundation and nine other cities to make high-quality programs available to more youth, improve the quality of programs, and increase youth participation.
- Louisville Out-of-School Time (OST) Coordinating Council
Mayor Fischer chairs the board of 55,000 Degrees, which is committed to adding 55,000 new associate's and bachelor’s degrees by 2020. Launched in 2010 with the historic signing of the Greater Louisville Education Commitment, 55,000 Degrees is a ground-breaking collaboration of top education, business and civic leaders. Its purpose is to create a more educated – and competitive – workforce for Louisville. When Louisville adds these 55,000 new degrees, we will move from near the “back of the pack” when ranked among 15 competitive cities, to the “top tier” by 2020.
In another exciting aspect of the program, African-American leaders have launched 15K, pledging that 15,000 of these degrees will be held by African-Americans, closing racial gaps in achievement. Similarly, Louisvillians with Hispanic/Latino backgrounds have created “Behold! 1500 Latinos”.
To achieve the ambitious goal, the entire community needs to step up and play a role. Count Me In! provides community and civic organizations, businesses, churches, and individuals with a framework for committing to the 55,000 Degrees goal and effort. From sharing information about college to providing a high impact program that helps students graduate, it calls for a number of ways to pledge support for the 55,000 Degrees goal. There are three pledge levels with Count Me In!, including: Advocate, Ally, and Partner. Louisville Metro Government participates at the partner level, having pledged to help 462 Metro employees attain degrees by 2020.
In another exciting aspect of the program, African-American leaders have launched 15K, pledging that 15,000 of these degrees will be held by African-Americans, in an effort to close racial gaps in achievement.
Louisville Metro Government sponsors or participates in numerous programs and partnerships across the education continuum.
Jefferson County Public Schools
Although the work of Jefferson County Public Schools is overseen by the Jefferson County Board of Education, Mayor Fischer works closely with the Board and Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens to advocate for and work with the schools to help improve education outcomes for our public schools students.
In addition, the Mayor works with Greater Louisville Inc. – the Metro Chamber of Commerce – and the HIRE Education Forum (made up of 32 post-secondary institutions in the area) to bring Close the Deal to six JCPS high schools with low college-going rates. Close the Deal helps students, many of whom are the first in their families to aspire to go to college, apply for admission, scholarships and financial aid.
The city also supports the Louisville Education and Employment Partnership (LEEP) program, which since it was founded 25 years ago has helped make sure young people who are at risk of dropping out complete high school and successfully transition to college, a career or the military.
As part of a collaboration that includes PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great, Metro United Way’s Success by 6, and the Jefferson County Public Schools, Mayor Fischer sponsors Kindergarten Countdown each summer. Students who will enter Kindergarten in the fall sign up at Louisville Free Public Library branches, receiving a free book and an “I’m Going to Kindergarten” t-shirt, which gets them free admission to attractions throughout the city. The program culminates in a Kindergarten Countdown Fair at Slugger Field and free admission to a Louisville Bats game!
Led by Jefferson County Public Schools, Every1Learns is a community partnership designed to enhance after-school and summer learning opportunities for students. Learning Place sites throughout Louisville Metro, including eight Community Schools jointly funded by the city and JCPS, provide students with access to digitally-driven extended learning programs. Enrichment opportunities are available as well, including at the Louisville Zoo and the Louisville Science Center.
The Mayor's SummerWorks Program helps about 400 young people ages 16 to 21 find employment for the summer. KentuckianaWorks, the Greater Louisville Workforce Investment Board oversees SummerWorks. Major employers hire a number of youngsters and donations from generous funders allow non-profit organizations to hire the rest. In 2013, Mayor Fischer hopes to raise private funds to DOUBLE participation in this program.
KentuckianaWorks’ Youth Career Center also works with youth ages 16–21, providing mentoring services, career counseling and referrals to post-secondary and vocational training. At the Youth Career Center young people can get advice and practical tips about looking for a job, including conducting an online job search, preparing a great resume and cover letter, identifying their skills and abilities, and providing tips on how to interview well. More importantly, center staff help young people with math and reading skills, earning a GED and determining whether they are eligible for free training or tuition to upgrade their skills and further their educations.
In addition, the KentuckianaWorks College Access Center (KCAC) is a one-stop center focusing on college access. It provides financial aid, educational, and career counseling services to adults and youth in the Louisville area and in southern Indiana.
Louisville Free Public Library
A strong library system is essential for a community that embraces lifelong learning. In his first year in office, Mayor Fischer restored Sunday hours for libraries, increasing their accessibility for Louisville families. In his most recent budget, Mayor Fischer allocated funds to begin construction of the Southwest Regional Library, extending services to an underserved part of Louisville.
This innovative program began in 1998 and brings together Metro Government, United Parcel Service (UPS), the University of Louisville, Jefferson Community and Technical College and state government to provide tuition-free education to students at either institution who are employees on UPS’ critical night shift. This program has enabled thousands of students to attend college while meeting the workforce needs of Louisville’s largest employer. There is also a partnership with Humana, a major health insurer with headquarters in Louisville.
Community Action Partnership
The Community Action Partnership, a division of Louisville Metro Community Services and Revitalization, offers up to 100, scholarships (each $1,000) toward the cost of college tuition, to applicants who reside in Jefferson County, have a 3.0 Grade-Point Average and meet income guidelines. To qualify, students need to be enrolled in a program over one year in length and expect to graduate by June 30, 2013. More information can be found and applications are available on-line at the link below.
Community Action Partnership Scholarships