Boosting education with a new kind of post-secondary ecosystem

A++ will launch this fall with a year-long exploratory commission made up of representatives from the NAU, the state’s 10 community college districts, and the ACA.

I’m excited to talk to you about NAU’s next step in our efforts to be a preeminent engine of opportunity for the people of Flagstaff, Coconino County and the State of Arizona.

Last month, we announced a unique new partnership with the state’s 10 community college districts and the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) to launch the Arizona Attainment Alliance (A++). This unique partnership aims to harness the collective impact of distinct institutions that together serve more than 322,000 students, based on a shared desire to dramatically increase Arizona’s postsecondary success rate. A++ represents a new type of student-centered post-secondary ecosystem based on collaboration across shared interests and priorities and leveraging complementary assets to serve the people of Arizona.

This is truly a partnership, where our individual efforts are amplified through a system of collaborators across the state, including Coconino Community College, to expand access to an exceptional education for thousands of talented Arizonans.

The initiative aims to address one of our biggest challenges – low college attendance rates and low academic achievement. By harnessing the collective capacity of partner institutions and organizations, A++ will be able to achieve the following goals:

  • Increase the immediate college enrollment rate of state high school graduates.
  • Serve a growing proportion of adults with a college education but no degree.
  • Exceed expected progression and graduation rates.
  • Increase the postgraduate value of the degrees students earn.

Although Arizona has one of the fastest growing economies in the nation and serves as a hub for modern industry, the educational attainment rate of associates, bachelors, and graduates in Arizona is well below the national average, resulting in an annual shortage of more than 26,000 bachelor’s degrees. gap that jeopardizes the evolution of the Arizona economy.

This innovative coalition has a simple yet transformative aspiration to dramatically boost statewide post-secondary success in fields that align with the high-demand, high-paying jobs that are fueling Arizona’s new economy.

Coconino Community College is a key local partner and will help make A++ successful right here in our own backyard. They bring a well-deserved reputation as an engine of education and economic development in our community. They prepare students for essential jobs in fields such as nursing, child care, construction, automotive technology, computer science, fire science, law enforcement and many more. . In doing so, CCC has helped fuel the individual and collective aspirations of those who inhabit this region and that is exactly what we are looking for in the A++ partnership.

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), the state’s premier economic development organization, also plays a leading role in A++. ACA’s direct integration will ensure that workforce development opportunities are closely linked to A++ member institutions and programs, strengthening the college and career ecosystem.

A++ partner institutions like CCC and ACA are committed to working together to further stimulate college attendance and completion and enable people in our communities and the state to take full advantage of the opportunities that exist right here. with us.

A++ will launch this fall with a year-long exploratory commission made up of representatives from the NAU, the state’s 10 community college districts, and the ACA. Over the next year, A++ partners will work together to develop a roadmap of measurable actions. Together, representatives from the NAU and community college districts across the state will explore opportunities in the following areas, among others:

Inter-institutional approaches to strategic enrollment and graduation management that maximize access and success.

Strategies to strengthen the K-12 pipeline to higher education, such as dual credit and pre-acceptance programs.

High-quality, transparent and career-focused academic pathways that could be made available through A++, starting at certificate level and continuing to associate degree, bachelor’s degree and diploma/advanced levels .

Inter-institutional shared services and technologies that provide seamless, high-quality student success, career guidance, and transition services.

The opportunity that A++ represents has resonated statewide with university leaders and business organizations who see an opportunity to cultivate talent and facilitate opportunities right here in Flagstaff and throughout Arizona, which that will increase the value, impact and accessibility of transformative post-secondary opportunities for students. NBF

By Jose Luis Cruz Rivera

José Luis Cruz Rivera is the president of Northern Arizona University.