Private funding from the likes of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will help bolster institutions like Ivy Tech Community College over the next decade. A summit held today in Washington by Second Lady Jill Biden seeks to enhance the community college experience in America. One way to do that, said Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, is to encourage public-private partnerships with groups like one which has been established with the Gates Foundation.
“That program will aim to dramatically improve community college graduation rates,” Barnes said. “By building on proven, existing practices to implement model pathways that will make the community college experience much more responsive to the students who are attending those colleges. And that announcement will come complete with a competitive grant program that’s a $35 million investment over five years.”
Indiana’s community college system, Ivy Tech, is the second largest in the nation and President Tom Snyder participated in the summit in Washington. Bloomington Ivy Tech chancellor John Whikehart said he believes Ivy Tech has some lessons it could teach the nation, especially about effective partnerships with four-year institutions.
“We have taken very major strides with Indiana University and its eight campuses around the state, matched up with our statewide system. There are certainly things that we could bring to the table about what we learned from that experience,” he said.
During a Monday conference call, Dr. Biden said the community college experience is near to her heart, pointing out she’s spent 19 years teaching at one herself.