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About Degrees Matter!

Degrees Matter! staff and Future Talent Council Board Chair

Steve Moore, Managing Director, [email protected]


Camy Sorge, Associate Director, [email protected]


Jason Caldwell, Associate Director, Advising and Volunteers, [email protected]


Rachena Webb, AmeriCorps VISTA, [email protected]


Rev Odell Cleveland, Future Talent Council Chair


The Future Talent Council (FTC) is the advisory board for Degrees Matter! and is comprised of cross sector community partners working collectively to increase talent and college degree holders in Guilford County.  By using shared accountability and collective action, the  .  Click here for a list of members.



Degrees Matter! is a shared partnership between The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Opportunity Greensboro and The United Way of Greater Greensboro.  Our mission is to increase the number of adults with college degrees in Greater Greensboro/High Point; by engaging, connecting and supporting the 67,000+ residents who have been to college but not finished a degree.  Degrees Matter! strives to be a leader in North Carolina and the nation in this work.

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Supported by John M Belk Endowment, Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, North Carolina Campus Compact/AmeriCorps and  Lumina Foundation, Degrees Matter! has set an audacious goal to match GOAL 2025, that 60% of residents of Guilford County will hold high quality certificates/degrees/credentials by the year 2025.  Today approximately 40% of residents in Guilford County hold these credentials.  To reach GOAL 2025, Degrees Matter! will build an enduring network of collaboration to expand degree attainment by 40,000 new degrees, certificates, and credentials by the year 2025.  Today, 67,000+ residents of Guilford County have some college experience but have not earned a degree (United States Census Bureau, 2012).  Yet, the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce predicts that 63% of all jobs will require some form of post-secondary education by 2018 (five short years from today.)

To achieve GOAL 2025, the Degrees Matter! initiative will focus specifically on the 67,000+ residents of Guilford County (ages 25 – 64) who have been to college but who have not earned a degree/credential.  This initiative will strive to improve higher education attainment among local residents while connecting the competencies needed within strategic local industry clusters.


The Brookings Institution (2012) recently ranked Greensboro 81st (among the top 100 largest urban areas) when comparing the gap between education needs and talent in the workforce.

In a recent study led by The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Greensboro (2012), a gap exists in the talent needs of business and industry (demand) and the Guilford County workforce (supply).  In 2011, an estimated 1,800 jobs went unfilled in Greensboro/High Point due to a lack of qualified talent.  Furthermore, The Brookings Institution (2012) recently ranked Greensboro 81st (among the top 100 largest urban areas) when comparing the gap between education needs and talent in the workforce.  This analysis linked unemployment to this educational gap within urban areas.  Greater Greensboro is the 72nd largest urban area in the United States yet ranks 77th in degree attainment (associate’s degree or higher.)



“Every morning a million North Carolinians get up and go to work for wages which leave them below the poverty line so they can pay taxes that finance the education you receive in North Carolina. Your job is to figure out how you’re going to pay them back.”   Dr. Bill Friday, President Emeritus, UNC System 


Inspired by Dr. Friday’s quote and to facilitate change, Degrees Matter! will curate ideas, convene leaders, and connect existing best practices that can be spread and scaled.  Greensboro is primed for this work as a city that is large enough to impact significant population within a community, yet small enough to get things done.



Why do Degrees really Matter?

  By the year 2018, 63% of all jobs in the U.S. will require a college degree or credential (associate degree, high quality certification or higher.)  Today 35.3% of working adults in Greensboro/High Point hold an associate degree or higher.4

  58% of a city’s economic success can be linked to one key indicator, the rate of degree attainment in that city. 1

  Research by CEOs for Cities (2012) demonstrates that for each percentage point increase in degree attainment (associate degree or higher) a city can expect an annual $856/per capita increase. 1

  There are 7 colleges and universities  in Greensboro’s city limits with  45,000+ college students, yet we rank  77th in degree attainment amongst the top 100 MSAs.2

  In the hyper-connected global economy, cities and regions with the most educated/talented workforce build the strongest economies, develop thriving entrepreneurial culture and attract the most businesses. 4

  A Greater Greensboro Chamber of Commerce (2012) study found that over 1800 jobs went unfilled due to lack of qualified workers, an indicator of the education gap in the Greensboro workforce.5

  Many peer  cities are ahead of Greensboro in both talent acquisition and in rates of degree attainment.6

Sources:   1. CEOs for Cities Talent Dividend (2012,) 2. Lumina Foundation’s A Stronger Nation Report (2012,)   3. Brookings Institution’s Education, Job Openings, and Unemployment in Metropolitan America report (2012), 4. Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce’s Help Wanted report (2012),  5. Greater Greensboro Chamber of Commerce 2012 State of our Community, Workforce Development Survey, and 6. U.S. Census Bureau—2010 Census and 2008-10 American Community Survey Three Year Estimates.

Annualized Economic Impact of Increasing Degree Attainment by each 1% (associate degree or higher)

Economic Benefits of Degree Attainment


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