This week I spoke at a ribbon cutting for the Graduate Memphis College Resource Center at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library. Graduate Memphis is an action initiative of Leadership Memphis and the Memphis Talent Dividend: College Attainment Initiative. It is affiliated with the Talent Dividend Network and the Graduate Network.
The mission of the new center is to increase the number of adults with quality post-secondary credentials in the Memphis region. These credentials could be certificates from technical schools to Associate's degrees or Bachelor's degrees. What's important is that every Memphian has an opportunity to pursue his or her dreams and have the opportunity to prepare through higher education so they can be better prepared for a highly competitive, rapidly changing 21st Century economy.
When speaking I emphasized the need to increase the number of college graduates to attract businesses and improve the overall culture of Memphis. I also spoke about the benefits of the Tennessee Lottery regarding educational opportunities in Tennessee. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told me that if he had lottery funds for education he "would wear them out" to help get the word out about programs like this. Schools need to use every opportunity to make sure students are aware of the benefits they have access to with HOPE scholarships and technical grants. With a lottery scholarship and the $1,000 increase in Pell grants that President Obama and the Democratic congress passed, a college education in Tennessee can be almost cost-free for many students. And 90 to 95 percent of Technical school grants are paid for by lottery funds.