Southeast Named Institutional Partner as part of St. Louis Talent Hub Designation

St. Louis Graduates Granted $275,000 to Address Equity Gaps in Regional Degree Completion

Southeast Missouri State University is one of five Missouri higher education institutional partners identified for transforming lives through postsecondary education equity – a key component in the designation last week of St. Louis as a Talent Hub by the Lumina Foundation, in partnership with the Kresge Foundation.

St. Louis is one of seven cities designated as Talent Hubs this year.

Each community designated as a Talent Hub will receive $275,000 in grant funding over 31 months. Grant funding will support local efforts to educate more people, allowing community and education leaders to better meet the specific needs of residents. Lumina will provide these funds in partnership with Kresge.

“At Southeast, we have developed and are expanding our initiatives and programs to assist the key target populations and are looking forward to working with our colleagues to increase the retention and graduation of African American and low-income students, said Trent Ball, assistant vice president for academic diversity and outreach at Southeast. “The Talent Hub designation strengthens the work we will all do collectively to not only implement best and promising practices but to also share scalable programs and projects that can help students across the state and across the nation.”

The St. Louis Talent Hub is a collaboration led by St. Louis Graduates, a network of K-12 and higher education, youth-serving non-profit organizations, business and philanthropy dedicated to this purpose. St. Louis and six other communities were named Talent Hubs last week. These cities, along with 17 others selected in 2017, earned this designation by meeting rigorous standards for creating environments that attract, retain, and cultivate talent, particularly among today’s students, many of whom are people of color, the first in their families to go to college, and from low-income households.

Each Talent Hub focuses intensively on raising the nation’s overall post-high school attainment level to 60 percent of working-age adults by 2025. Talent Hub cities are committed to eliminating deep disparities in educational outcomes among African-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians, who fare poorly in contrast with white and Asian students.

Along with Southeast, the other five higher education institutions partnering with St. Louis Graduates in the St. Louis Talent Hub are Maryville University, University of Central Missouri (UCM), University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) and Webster University. Four of the five were identified in “Degrees with Less Debt” as leaders in graduating low-income students, first-generation students and students of color at higher than predicted rates with less than expected debt.

The St. Louis Talent Hub partners are implementing a collaborative workplan to increase degree completion for low-income students and African American students. Southeast Missouri State University is increasing retention and completion of low-income African American students through student graduation pathway plans and career connections. Southeast will increase the number of students participating in our mentoring programs by 50 percent during the grant cycle with a goal of increasing their retention rate by 10 percent.

In addition, St. Louis Graduates and institutional partners have launched the Student Success Learning Institute to foster replication of effective student support strategies identified in the “Degrees with Less Debt” research.

The Talent Hub strategies complement St. Louis Graduates’ ongoing initiatives aimed at postsecondary access and affordability. These include Scholarship Central, an online system connecting students to private scholarship and interest-free loan programs; the Professional Development Institute which builds the capacity of advisors in middle school, high school, higher education and community non-profit organizations to support students in finding a postsecondary program that is an academic, social and financial fit; and policy advocacy in partnership with students through the Active Advocacy Coalition.

The St. Louis Talent Hub is a collaboration led by St. Louis Graduates, a network of K-12 and higher education, youth-serving non-profit organizations, business and philanthropy dedicated to transforming lives through postsecondary education equity.

About Talent Hubs
The seven new communities designated as Talent Hubs are: Corpus Christi, Texas; Detroit; Elkhart County, Ind.; Las Vegas; Mobile, Ala.; Rio Grande Valley, Texas; and St. Louis.

To date, Talent Hub investments by Lumina and Kresge total just over $10 million.

“We have added to the growing roster of top-flight cities committed to meeting the demands for an educated workforce,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “The Talent Hub designation serves both as an aspirational target for other cities and a foundation from which cities designated as Talent Hubs can build.”

Talent Hubs are one outgrowth of Lumina’s Community Partnerships for Attainment, which represented more than $10 million of grants to 75 cities across the country. This partnership, which began in 2013, continues to work directly with communities to expand educational opportunities beyond high school.

“With our partners at Kresge, Lumina’s Talent Hubs designation aims to deepen the impact of cross-sector, place-based efforts to increase higher education attainment in communities and cities across the country,” said Danette Howard, Lumina’s senior vice president and chief strategy officer. “Talent Hubs work closely with Lumina and national thought leaders to develop a customized action plan tailored to the needs of their specific communities, with a focus on increasing the percentage of post-high school credentials residents have earned. This effort is directly connected to Lumina’s mission of helping the nation ensure that 60 percent of working-age Americans have quality credentials by 2025.”
About the St. Louis Talent Hub
The St. Louis Talent Hub is focused on eliminating degree completion gaps for low-income and African American traditional age students attending four-year institutions. The Talent Hub work builds on the research in Degrees with Less Debt: Effective Higher Education Strategies for Underrepresented Student Populations, a report commissioned by St. Louis Graduates and published in 2017. It includes efforts to build out effective campus-based institutional student supports among five higher education partners, and to foster replication of effective practice through a new learning institute engaging postsecondary professionals across Missouri.

St. Louis Graduates is joined in its Talent Hub work by St. Louis Regional Chamber, its partner in the Lumina Foundation’s Community Partnership for Attainment, along with St. Louis Community Foundation, which serves as the fiscal sponsor for St. Louis Graduates.

“We are excited to participate in an effort with St. Louis Graduates and higher education institutions to advance core strategies of the St. Louis Regional Education Commitment – our shared postsecondary agenda aligned to the goal of increasing educational attainment and building the kind of talent base our region needs to thrive and prosper,” said Tom Chulick, interim president and CEO, St. Louis Regional Chamber.

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Lumina envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. The Foundation’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in American cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. For more information visit

St. Louis Graduates is a collaborative network of K-12 and higher education, youth-serving non-profit organizations, business and philanthropy dedicated to transforming lives through postsecondary education equity. St. Louis Graduates is a component fund of St. Louis Community Foundation.

Since its founding in 1915 as one of the nation’s first community foundations, the goal of the St. Louis Community Foundation has been to promote and inspire charitable giving within the St. Louis region and to expand the impact charitable dollars have on improving the quality of life in our area and beyond.