WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced a new partnership between the White House and Shawnee State University to increase college access for low income and disadvantaged students. As a part of the Administration’s effort to help more students afford and graduate college with the skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce, it has asked for colleges and universities across the country to commit to one of four areas that American institutions can improve upon to help underprivileged students.

 “Education is the key to providing all Ohioans the opportunity for success,” Brown said. “But where you’re born or how much your family makes shouldn’t cost you that opportunity. We must continue to strengthen programs that ensure success for students from all backgrounds. Shawnee State’s commitment today is a step in the right direction to helping all students succeed in college and gain the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in today’s world.”

 As a way to serve and recruit low income, disadvantaged high school students, Shawnee State University will develop a holistic advising program aimed at placing students into academic programs that best fit their academic strengths. The University will work with students to provide guidance on study and life skills, financial literacy, and career assessment and planning. Additionally, Shawnee State will offer financial scholarships to students who have achieved “senior” status but dropped out and did not graduate from the University due to a lack of financial resources. This added scholarship, provided through the University’s Development Foundation, will help students complete their program and obtain their college degree.

 The Administration remains committed to achieving its “North Star” goal of leading the world in the share of college graduates by 2020. To achieve this, it has identified four areas the country can—and the Administration will—work to improve:

  1. Connecting more low-income students to the college that fits their needs in order to ensure their success;
  2. Intervening earlier to increase the pool of students preparing for college;
  3. Leveling the playing field for students needing SAT/ACT test preparation and college advising; and
  4. Strengthening programs to ensure students academically underprepared can progress throughout their academic careers.

 These efforts would help to close the opportunity gap between higher and lower income students. According to the White House, in 1990, American 25 to 34 year olds ranked first in the world in attaining four-year degrees. Today, however, that same group ranks twelfth. Further, half of Americans who come from high-income families hold a bachelor’s degree by age 25 compared to only one in 10 Americans from low-income families.  

That is why Brown remains committed to strengthening education for all Ohioans, having taught in Ohio’s public schools and at The Ohio State University’s Mansfield branch. In March 2014, Brown will host his seventh annual College and University Presidents’ Conference in Washington D.C. with presidents from colleges and universities across Ohio. Brown’s forum—the first of its kind—is aimed at connecting educators with each other to advance the quality of Ohio’s higher education system and promote success for all students.

 Brown also is the author of the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act of 2013, bipartisan legislation that would help dislocated workers train for high-tech jobs in their region. The SECTORS Act would achieve this by organizing stakeholders connected to a regional industry, including education and training providers, business and labor leaders, and local workforce and education system administrators, to develop plans for growing that industry.