By Daryl Graham, Senior Vice President, Philanthropy, USA Funds
I often am struck by the many opportunities I have had in my career and my life, thanks to the college degree I received many years ago. And then I think about the challenges that today’s college students face — challenges that too often prevent them from enjoying the myriad opportunities my degree has afforded me.
That’s why I’m proud to have joined an organization so committed to ensuring that students not only have access to college or other postsecondary training, but that they also complete that higher education prepared for successful careers and fulfilling lives.
In fact, you could say I was a proponent of USA Funds®’ focus — Completion With a Purpose® — long before it became my job in February.
For 15 years I have worked to identify opportunities for grant making, sponsorships and volunteerism. I look forward to putting that experience to work both in the Indianapolis community, where USA Funds is based, and across the nation — particularly for at-risk youth and disconnected young adults.
I’ve long been committed to the principle behind Completion With a Purpose, that students need to understand their opportunities and follow their own surest paths to completing postsecondary education or training and succeeding at work and life.
Because where there are opportunities, there is hope. Hope not only for better-educated and productive individuals, but also for a better society in Indianapolis, across Indiana, and in other states and cities whose citizens understand and follow their clearest pathways to success.
Achieving these positive results for individuals and communities will require some rethinking, a willingness to embrace innovative ideas for higher education. We even need to consider the larger question of what quality postsecondary education means today.
Educational institutions at all levels as well as employers, policymakers and community-based organizations must be willing to work together to enhance the value of post-high school education. We must be open to evaluating data that show the best opportunities for success, whether those opportunities come through degrees from majority higher education institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, community colleges, or through other forms of certification and credentialing.
And USA Funds already is helping to lead this charge for boosting college and career success.
In a professional life already filled with opportunity, built on the foundation that my education has provided, I consider my new role in helping USA Funds advance Completion With a Purpose to be one of my greatest opportunities yet. I embrace that opportunity and look forward to making a difference for students and their communities.