Awards Recognize Mayor-Led Efforts to Enhance College Completion and Career Readiness

Indianapolis, IN — Louisville, KY Mayor Greg Fischer; Orlando, FL Mayor Buddy Dyer; and Hartford, CT Mayor Luke Bronin have won the 2016 U.S. Conference of Mayors/USA Funds 2016 National Education Pathways with a Purpose Awards. The awards were announced during the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ (USCM) 84th Annual Meeting in Indianapolis.

The awards are sponsored by USCM and USA Funds, a nonprofit corporation that promotes student success in college and careers. The winning communities will share a total of $150,000 in grants to recognize mayor-led programs that provide a more purposeful path for students to and through college and on to rewarding careers and successful lives.

This year’s winning cities were selected by an independent panel of former mayors, educators and workforce development professionals.

“With the increasing skill demands of the 21st century workplace, mayors are concerned that all students have the support that they need to graduate from high school and move forward fully prepared for college and the job market,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the Conference of Mayors. “These three mayors demonstrate the ongoing and excellent work that continues to take place on the local level to ensure that America’s students are provided high quality education and college completion goals.”

“The economic vitality of our nation’s cities depends on a robust education and workforce system aligned with the needs of employers,” said Carol D’Amico, USA Funds executive vice president, National Engagement and Philanthropy. “A mayor’s leadership can make a real difference in promoting a well-educated citizenry equipped with the skills to tackle the jobs in demand in today’s workforce. USA Funds is delighted to recognize outstanding examples of this leadership.”


LOUISVILLE, KY (Large City): Cradle to Career Initiative

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has brought the innovation and urgency of a former CEO to his strategic goals for career pathways and college attainment. In January 2015, he launched the Cradle to Career initiative to establish a comprehensive approach to improve student success in career and life. Cradle to Career operates through four major pillars, corresponding to the four interconnected pieces of the larger college and career pathway system. Each pillar has a local community “owner,” an entity that can convene stakeholders, formulate strategy, and marshal public support:

  • Early Care & Education/Kindergarten Readiness (Metro United Way);
  • K-12 Success (Jefferson County Public School);
  • High School to Postsecondary Transition & Completion (55,000 Degrees); and
  • 21st century Workforce & Talent (Kentuckiana Works, the local workforce development agency).

Results included a Career App, created by KentuckianaWorks, which recognized that there was tremendous value in using labor market data resources to guide education and career decisions. The Career App allows people to find labor market data through three avenues—by occupation, college major and income. Overall, Mayor Fischer’s framework has created a cycle where good education leads to good jobs which leads to family-supporting wages, which enables good education, which again, leads to good jobs.

“Mayor Fischer should be applauded for taking the labor market data and making it understandable and user-friendly for parents, students and job-seekers,” said judging panelist Steve Partridge, VP of Workforce Development at Northern Virginia Community College.

Fellow judge and former Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory added, “The continuity of leadership by Mayor Fischer, building on what was already in place should be a help up. You’ve got to applaud that Career App as a means for the general public to access labor market data.”

Orlando, FL (Medium City): Mayor Dyer’s Children Initiative

When Buddy Dyer was elected Mayor of Orlando in 2003, he was determined to improve the academic, social and economic outcomes of Orlando’s children. Mayor Dyer’s approach was to initiate, lead and invest in collective efforts to build evidence-based cradle-to- career, data-driven youth programs, especially focused on children residing in the city’s lowest income neighborhoods and attending struggling city schools. Mayor Dyer has since engaged key stakeholders from all sectors, which has resulted in the development and implementation of numerous groundbreaking programs collectively known today as Mayor Dyer’s Children Initiative (MDCI). Today, MDCI serves an estimated 13,000 children per year—90% of whom are low income—covering an estimated 73% of all the low-income children residing in Orlando. Among other things, MDCI aims to reduce juvenile arrests, increase youth employment and improve academic performance among Orlando’s children, including increasing enrollment and completion of post-secondary education. MDCI also includes a comprehensive set of strategies and programs aimed at boosting employment and career development among the city’s low-income youth. All of these programs heavily rely on data to track performance and effectiveness.

“Mayor Dyer really analyzed the data and designed a program based on the needs of his community,” said former Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor.

Karen Sitnick, former Director, Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, Baltimore City, MD commented, “By covering 73% of all low-income children residing in Orlando, this program has truly impressive results.”

HARTFORD, CT (Small City): Hartford Coalition on Education and Talent

The Hartford Coalition on Education and Talent (HCET) is a city-wide effort supported by Mayor Luke Bronin that aligns cross-sector efforts (public, private, business, nonprofit, and otherwise) and is designed to help more Hartford youth complete post-secondary education while closing the talent gap experienced by regional employers. The HCET has been working to create a seamless education-to-talent pipeline in Hartford with an ambitious goal: to increase the percentage of Hartford youth completing post-secondary credentials from 23% to 50% by 2025.  HCET has been able to bring together disparate stakeholders throughout the city in a way that is unprecedented. Prior to this work, organizations and programs in Hartford had no systematic way of collaborating, convening, and tracking progress—and the lack of coordination was evident in citywide educational and employment outcomes. Now, the HCET helps organizations take a comprehensive approach to serving students’ needs and aiding student achievement, talent, development, and employment.

“The Hartford Coalition on Education and Talent was a collaborative effort, but Mayor Bronin was clearly the driver and his leadership was data-driven with real results,” said former Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory.

Former Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor added, “I applaud Mayor Bronin’s work in bringing all the stakeholders together on the Hartford Coalition on Education and Talent to develop strong strategies for creating a seamless education to talent pipeline.”