Dallas County, Texas – like many communities across the country – is grappling with a lack of a skilled talent pipeline for its growing industries, in large part due to the lack of affordability and supports for postsecondary education. In Dallas County, only 37 percent of adults have a two- or four-year degree, yet 65 percent of living-wage jobs require an education beyond high school.
To tackle this ongoing issue, Dallas County Promise was created with support from JPMorgan Chase’s New Skills for Youth initiative, to help all students complete college with the skills most needed by North Texas employers. To be eligible, students sign the Promise Pledge acknowledging their interest in pursuing postsecondary education, have attended a participating high school for their full senior year, and meet the required deadlines for admissions, course enrollment and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The first cohort of participants is already making significant strides as the Dallas County Community College District saw a 35 percent increase in college enrollment and the University of North Texas at Dallas increased their enrollment by 30 percent in the 2017-18 school year.
“We know the surest way to expand access to opportunity is to equip people with the skills needed to compete for well-paying, in-demand jobs that are available today and tomorrow,” said Anne Motsenbocker, Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase and head of the company’s Middle Market Banking division for Texas. “That’s why we are supporting communities around the world to design and implement innovative new approaches to career education that prepare young people to enter the workforce with the skills, experiences, and credentials they need to succeed in good careers in growing industries.”
The program pays for any balance of tuition not covered by federal or state financial aid at participating Promise partner colleges. Ninety-eight percent of eligible students have signed the Promise pledge this year and 60 percent completed the FAFSA. Postsecondary partners include the University of North Texas at Dallas, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University—Commerce and Midwestern State University, as well as 11 additional colleges and universities.
The support is not strictly financial; once enrolled in college, participants are supported by a variety of channels, including success coaches to help learners become informed about career opportunities and a 12-month leadership academy that connects Promise students with CEOs to receive mentorship.
Partners also launched a Parent Promise scholarship to offer parents of 2019 high school seniors tuition toward a certificate or an associate degree. The Parent Promise is limited to parents of students at a subset of high schools that represent areas with low postsecondary degree attainment.
Last year, JPMorgan Chase New Skills for Youth initiative invested $3 million to support the efforts of Dallas County Promise. As the program grows, it will continue to focus on these main goals: to provide technical assistance to schools, to further develop career pathway strategies, and to expand and enhance data capabilities. The program is part of the statewide initiative known as 60x30TX, which has the goal of 60 percent of adults ages 25 to 34 with a degree by 2030 in Texas.
Dallas County Promise is a JPMorgan Chase & Co. New Skills for Youth Innovation Site aiming to improve career pathways for learners. This snapshot is part of a series documenting the progress of the local investments from across the globe that aim to identify and implement the most promising ideas in career education, with a special focus on communities with the greatest needs. Learn more about the innovations sites here.
Nicole Howard, Communications Associate