Forum to discuss African-American goals in degrees initiative

A panel of civil rights and community leaders will host a forum to discuss how Louisville’s African-American community factors into the city’s 55,000 Degrees initiative.

Later today the Urban Upgrade Educational forum will convene at St. Stephen Church to address the widening achievement gap and lack of educational attainment in the black community in relation to the city’s new education strategy.

Earlier this year, the program was launched in an effort to increase the number of residents with college degrees. The new public-private partnership’s goal is to increase the number of people with bachelor’s degrees by 40,000 and the number with associate degrees by 15,000.

In terms of college education, the city is falling behind when compared to its competitive peers.

Recent data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, for instance, ranked Louisville as the 6th dumbest city in the country. Based upon the percentage of our population who hold college degrees the census showed only 25 percent of Louisvillians are college educated. The data also showed that the percentage of adults 25 and older who hold a four-year degree or higher remains below 30 percent.

The numbers are even more woeful when viewed through racial lenses.

According to the Greater Louisville Project, only 14 percent of African-Americans who live in the city have a bachelor’s degree or higher, which puts Louisville in the lower end among its peer cities. For the initiative to work, the non-profit group pointed to reducing the racial achievement gap as key to reaching the 55,000 degrees goal.

The forum starts at 5:30 p.m. tonight and will be hosted at St. Stephen Church (1008 S. 15th Street). The discussion will be moderated by Courier-Journal columnist Betty Baye’ and features:

Ben Richmond, president of the Louisville Urban League
Diane Porter, District 1 member of the Jefferson County Board of Education
Professor J. Blaine Hudson, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Louisville
Audwin Helton, President/CEO of Spatial Data Integrations
Rev. Kevin Cosby, Sr. Pastor at St. Stephen Church and President Simmons College

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