Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
One of the best ways to grow Nebraska is to provide job opportunities for our young people so they remain in Nebraska. Our task is to prepare our sons and daughters to compete in today's knowledge-based, technology-driven, global, free-market economy.
More than ever before, jobs require higher reading and math skills. One of the most valuable tools that we can give to today's students is the opportunity to earn a two-year associate's degree or a four-year college degree. If we want to keep Nebraska's economy strong, we need to encourage high school and middle school students to pursue a higher education.
Nebraska students and families are fortunate that our state has made the accessibility of an affordable, quality education a priority. Nebraskans have many outstanding colleges and universities to attend.
Recently, I had the honor of addressing over 200 middle school, high school, and community agency professionals, at EducationQuest Foundation's College Access Symposium. These dedicated professionals help our young people prepare for success in school, college and a future career.
Through the hard work of these school and agency professionals, and the efforts of Nebraska's education-related entities, we have made great strides in education. Our high school graduation rate has risen from 87.6 percent to 88.5 percent -- the second best in America. Our college-going rate has improved to 69.5 percent, placing Nebraska seventh in the nation in the number of students who continue on to college after high school.
While we can be proud of our top 10 ranking, there is still room to improve. In order to meet the workforce demands of the near future, we will need even more college-educated workers in Nebraska.
EducationQuest Foundation is a Nebraska-based nonprofit organization that helps make college possible for many of Nebraska's students. Their locations in Kearney, Lincoln and Omaha provide free college planning services for thousands of Nebraskans each year. They also share their services statewide by conducting financial aid programs, college planning programs and college fairs.
Each year, EducationQuest Foundation awards $1.4 million in need-based scholarship funds to Nebraska's nonprofit colleges. Their Reaching Your Potential scholarship program has helped hundreds of students overcome obstacles to attend college.
Since 2006, 51 high schools have shared over $2.5 million through the College Access Grants program. They have helped these schools develop programs that are helping more students get on the path to college.
I encourage you to learn more about EducationQuest and find out how they can help you fulfill your educational goals. You can learn about their free services at www.EducationQuest.org.