At a press conference today, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education launched Reach Higher: DirectComplete, an expanded adult degree completion program that connects state workforce development needs with degree programs at Oklahoma’s colleges and universities. A grant from Lumina Foundation is providing more than $777,000 over a three-year period to support the program.
“As Oklahoma’s workforce training and education needs grow, so does the population of adults who need to finish the degree they started,” said State Regent Ann Holloway. “These students invested time and money to pursue a degree, and demonstrated they had the ability to go to college – but something got in the way. We must continue engaging adult learners to complete their degrees and utilize their skills, expertise and life experiences to strengthen Oklahoma’s economy and workforce.”
Focusing on adult students, Reach Higher: DirectComplete is designed to help adults who have earned some college credit complete a degree linked to a critical occupation as designated by Oklahoma Works’ Oklahoma’s 100 Critical Occupations list. Partnerships with businesses, tribes, workforce development agencies, nonprofit organizations and foundations, federal and state agencies and other groups will provide scholarships, grants and other support to adult students who pursue degree programs within the Reach Higher: DirectComplete program.
As a foundation, Reach Higher: DirectComplete is building upon the current Reach Higher adult degree completion program, Reach Higher: FlexFinish, which offers three discrete degree plans for working adults who have earned a minimum number of credit hours and want to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree.
“Oklahoma is a leader in engaging adult students to return and complete higher education degrees,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Our new Reach Higher: DirectComplete program will provide access and affordability to adult learners around the state, while providing an educated workforce for Oklahoma’s businesses and industries. We are grateful to Lumina Foundation for their support of this effort.”
The program will target individuals identified by state partners who are within 15 credit hours of completing an associate degree (75 percent of coursework completed) or within 60 credit hours of completing a baccalaureate (50 percent of coursework completed) on the list of degrees desired by the state partner. Each participant must have a 2.0 grade point average in all previous college credits and must have completed all remedial coursework.
The program will connect eligible students to tuition and educational assistance through employers, tribal education offices, workforce centers, non-profits and/or other entities. Lumina grant funding will support outreach, mentoring, coaching, and advising services and facilitate adult student access to other key assistance programs, such as child care, tutoring, emergency funding, book/fee assistance, transportation, nutritional assistance and housing assistance.
Participating partners include the Central Oklahoma Workforce Board, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Comanche Nation, Eastern Workforce Board, Kiowa Tribe, Northeast Workforce Development Board, Oklahoma Health Care Workforce Center, Saint Francis Health Systems, South Central Oklahoma Workforce Board, Southern Workforce Board Inc., Tribal Education Directors’ National Assembly, Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, Western Oklahoma Workforce Development Board and Workforce Tulsa.
Oklahoma higher education institutions participating in the program include Cameron University, College of the Muscogee Nation, Connors State College, Langston University, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, Oklahoma City Community College, Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, Rogers State University, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Tulsa Community College, the University of Oklahoma and Western Oklahoma State College.
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Lumina envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. The Foundation’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.
For more information about Reach Higher programs, visit reachhigherok.org.