LCCC aims to address economic inequality in Lorain County

MDC President David Dodson serves as keynote speaker of the District Board of Trustees’ Community Connections session, held in Lorain County Community College’s Spitzer Conference Center Reaser Grand Room, Jan. 10, 2018. Dodson’s presentation, “Why Mobility Matters,” focused on closing the gap which separates people from opportunity, in their pursuit of the American dream.
MDC President David Dodson serves as keynote speaker of the District Board of Trustees’ Community Connections session, held in Lorain County Community College’s Spitzer Conference Center Reaser Grand Room, Jan. 10, 2018. Dodson’s presentation, “Why Mobility Matters,” focused on closing the gap which separates people from opportunity, in their pursuit of the American dream. Eric Bonzar — NetNeil.Com
Lorain County Community College President Dr. Marcia Ballinger kicks off the District Board of Trustees’ Community Connections session in the Spitzer Conference Center’s Reaser Grand Room, Jan. 10, 2018. The session brought together various sectors of the community to form collaborations which address educational, economical and community issues and opportunities in hopes of creating and promoting progress.
Lorain County Community College President Dr. Marcia Ballinger kicks off the District Board of Trustees’ Community Connections session in the Spitzer Conference Center’s Reaser Grand Room, Jan. 10, 2018. The session brought together various sectors of the community to form collaborations which address educational, economical and community issues and opportunities in hopes of creating and promoting progress. Eric Bonzar — NetNeil.Com

Lorain County Community held its annual Community Connection session on Jan. 10 at the school’s Spitzer Conference Center, bringing community and government leaders together in addressing economic inequality through increasing post-secondary education opportunities.

“One of the reasons why educational attainment and moving that needle for educational attainment has been so imperative for us has been so that we can have an economy here in our community that provides for not only meaningful employment, but empowers our community to survive in this digital, knowledge-based economy,” LCCC President Marcia J. Ballinger said.

As the first community college founded in the state, she said LCCC’s role as an open-access institution has always been first and foremost to respond to the needs of Lorain County and providing opportunities for as many people as possible.

Citing statistics, Ballinger noted in the past 25 years the number of Lorain County residents with an associate’s degree or higher grew from 19 percent in 1990 to 33 percent in 2015, including a 120 percent increase between 2000-2010.

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Keynote speaker David Dodson of Durham, North Carolina-based nonprofit MDC, gave a presentation called “why mobility matters” outlining the determining factors of intra-generational upward economic mobility.

According to statistics from MDC’s Equality of Opportunity Project, a child born in Lorain County has only a 5.1 percent chance of reaching the top levels of income distribution.

“It’s in our American spirit and in the American dream that we shouldn’t be constrained by the circumstances of birth,” Dodson said. “I don’t know about you but I don’t think a 5 percent chance of getting from the bottom to the top of the economic distribution is what any of us wants for a child born in this county, and that’s a significant problem.”

Dodson said earning a post-secondary degree is a life-changing achievement for people in their ability to climb out of poverty.

Research from the Pew Institute suggests the link between the level of education and poverty have a clear relationship. It was shown nearly 30 percent of Lorain County residents over the age of 25 without a high school diploma are living in poverty compared to only about 12 percent for residents with some college or an associate’s degree.

With 35 percent of Lorain County residents achieving educational attainment of at least an associate’s degree, falling below statewide and national figures, LCCC is hoping to get to 65 percent attainment by 2025.

In an interview with NetNeil.Com, Ballinger said they have found success in addressing the sharp economic gaps in Lorain County between Lorain/Elyria communities with higher poverty rates over 20 percent compared with Avon/Avon Lake where poverty falls slightly below 4 percent.

They have emphasized looking deeply at their student data, breaking down the numbers and making efforts to understand the source of achievement gaps in the community and how they can design programs to meet those needs.

In 2011, LCCC started on a path to emphasize educational attainment and has found success through partnerships with Lorain City School’s early college program as well as emphasizing first-time college students, where the latter have seen an increase of 197 percent in graduation rates between 2011-2017, growing from 8 percent to 23 percent of the college’s student population. In 2016-17 alone, the college saw a 53 percent increase in graduates, its largest class ever.

“Every student’s dream matter. Because every student who comes to Lorain County Community College, we want them to earn that credential. We want them to earn that degree. Because educational attainment matters because if moving out of a lower socio-economic bracket matters because moving this community forward matters,” Ballinger said.

Lorain City Schools has become a model partnership for LCCC in building toward even greater outcomes the future through a culture shift in getting more first-generation college students to obtain a degree, she added.

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Editor’s note: This article was modified at 9:46 a.m. Jan. 12 to correct the spelling of David Dodson’s name.

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