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Pres. Obama: The American Graduation Initiative

July 14, 2009

Dear Colleagues,

President Obama is at Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan right now to announce a major new initiative to support community colleges and the President's goal to restore America's lead in the number of college graduates. The "American Graduation Initiative," will have three components, which are aimed at increasing the number of degree and certificate attainees in community colleges by 5 million over the next ten years:

  • $9 billion in competitive grants to community colleges and states over ten years
  • $10 billion loan fund to expand community college facilities
  • $50 million to expand online learning option
The program would be paid for by eliminating subsidies provided to banks and other private lenders in the federal student loan program.

As I told NPR's Marketplace today, the President's attention is a welcome recognition of the tireless work of community college faculty, staff and students and that the President's initiative can help rebuild after the cuts expected in California. Nevertheless, the new federal funds won't be arriving at community colleges in time to save the 250,000 students expected to be pushed out or to stall the deep cuts to student service programs for our most vulnerable students.

As you talk to your friends, colleagues and members of the community and press about the President's announcement, I hope you'll join me in sharing excitement about the deserved attention our colleges are getting, but also in continuing to tell the story of the deep cuts our colleges are facing. We will have to work even harder to ensure that Washington's attention does not become another excuse for a deeper slash by Sacramento's budgetary knife. And, we will have to lobby our federal representatives and our friends in the Administration to ensure that the program meets the needs of California's community college system.

Let's continue the fight in our communities, in Sacramento and across the nation to ensure that we realize the President's view of community colleges as the cornerstone of American economic promise.

Scott Lay
President and Chief Executive Officer
Orange Coast College '94
Community College League of California
2017 O Street, Sacramento, California 95811
916.444.8641 . www.ccleague.org 

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Last Updated: 7/14/09