Leveraging Our Communities for Adult Learners (LOCAL) is an initiative that worked in partnership with several Michigan community foundations and the Office of the Governor to encourage community efforts to serve adult learners. The project was premised on the fact that adults, especially younger adults age 25-34, are critical to the future social, cultural and economic prosperity of both their communities and Michigan. Supporting their ambitions to advance their college attainment is an important investment for stabilizing their lives and the communities in which they reside.
The initiative was focused on a set of “Cities of Promise” identified through the Michigan Promise Zone Act, a bill that was signed by Governor Jennifer M. Granholm in January 2009.
This project focused on young adult learners and community mobilization within the 10 Cities of Promise through two efforts – 1) identify, profile, and understand the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the young adult population, particularly those with some college but no degree; and 2) work with community leaders and foundations to facilitate and organize discussions that clarify community values and build consensus for local strategies to serve the residents in this group (see the description of “deliberative dialogues” under the Access to Democracy project).
The goal of this effort was to inform community foundations and state policymakers of the enormous potential and importance of helping young adults complete their college degrees. This included the need to identify the number of young adults residing within the 10 regions that are positioned to enroll or re-enroll in and complete college; understand their values, attitudes, and beliefs about going to college; and assess the institutional capacity needed to serve these individuals.
This effort was comprised of community action through the use of deliberative dialogue that worked to strengthen each community foundation’s understanding of local attitudes on college access and what citizens, particularly young adults, think about going to college.