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Today: Mayor Annise Parker Kicks off Launch of Initiative to Increase College Graduation Rates and Boost the Houston Region’s Economy

Center for Houston’s Future Spearheads Initiative to Increase College Graduation Rates and Boost Regional Economy

HOUSTON, TX – Center for Houston’s Future, The Region’s Think Tank, is launching My Degree Counts with a press conference kicked off by Houston Mayor Annise Parker at 6:00 p.m., April 2 at the Hilton Post Oak Hotel Houston. My Degree Counts is a campaign to increase the region’s 2 and 4-year college graduation rate and thereby improve the economy, and is the local initiative of the national Talent Dividend Prize, a million-dollar project sponsored by CEOs for Cities. “Increasing our college degree rate by just 1% increases personal income by $4.2 billion annually,” said Catherine Mosbacher, President and CEO of the Center for Houston’s Future. “Now that the Center has laid the groundwork, we’re ready to connect the public, through the My Degree Counts campaign and website, to the info and resources that make it easier to finish a degree or take those first steps toward college. It’s one-stop shopping for college success.”

The My Degree Counts launch features spokespersons Houston Texan James Casey and local rapper Baby Jay, along with leaders from Houston area community colleges, universities, ISDs and nonprofits. The launch coincides with the 2012 National Talent Dividend Meeting being hosted in Houston on April 2nd and 3rd.

What sets My Degree Counts apart from other educational efforts is the directness and urgency of the focus – raise college degree rates by the summer of 2013 with a $1 million prize awarded to the US city that does the best job of achieving that increase – and the unprecedented way in which universities and colleges are collaborating with each other, with all the ISDs in the region, and with local employers, to facilitate degree completion. To find out more, visitwww.mydegreecounts.com.

As part of the information campaign, Center for Houston’s future has enlisted the help of two Houstonians who are examples of the benefits of higher education,Houston Texan James Casey, and local rapper Baby Jay. “I didn’t start college until I was 22 years old, but getting a degree was always very important to me. Even though I left Rice University after two years to pursue professional football, I remained determined to get my diploma so I’d be prepared for a life after football,” said James Casey. A father and husband, with a successful NFL career, Casey now holds three degrees from Rice.

Baby Jay’s lyrics convey the issues faced by teens everywhere, like staying in school and bullying, and are influenced by the struggles he has experienced with an unsettled home life and his brothers’ incarceration – all the while focusing on a positive message. “Getting older, I realized I didn’t want to live the life of my brothers,” says Baby Jay. “I had to choose something different for myself.” Baby Jay is on track to getting his Associate’s Degree at San Jacinto College, and is using his experience to encourage others to get their degrees.

Center for Houston’s Future, The Region’s Think Tank, is a 501 c(3) non-profit organization that plans strategically for the region, strengthens the base of diverse business and civic leadership, and informs people about – while engaging them in the necessary groundwork for the region’s global future. To learn more, visitwww.futurehouston.org.

About CEOs for Cities
CEOs for Cities is a global learning community and partnership network that connects leaders across 57 North American cities to each other and to smart ideas and practices of successful cities. With the support of The Kresge Foundation and Lumina Foundation, CEOs for Cities leads the one million dollar Talent Dividend prize competition and national campaign to increase college-degree attainment. www.ceosforcities.org.

Mercedes Santos-Garay
Manager – Communications & Events
Center for Houston’s Future
1200 Smith, Suite 1150, Houston, TX 77002
msantosgaray@futurehouston.org | 713-844-9328 | (F): 713-844-9348
futurehouston.org | facebook.com/Centerforhoustonsfuture | twitter.com/FutureHouston
Center for Houston’s Future: The Region’s Think Tank

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