City Colleges of Chicago announces 5-year plan

June 24, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined the chancellor Monday in making the announcement.

City Colleges of Chicago has been the focus of a turnaround program the past few years, where the curriculum at six of the seven campuses has been tailored to meet the needs of employers in the fields of health care, business, hospitality and manufacturing.

Chancellor Cheryl Hyman implemented the College to Careers program and says that as a graduate of community college, it's important to merge high academic standards with real-life experience.

"I've heard people say community college is where you go when you can't succeed and that's absolutely not the case. I'm a living example of that. But at the same time we have to show the world that we are about more than that," said Hyman.

Hyman announced a plan to build on the momentum at City Colleges, where the graduation rate is now 12 percent, up from 7 percent three years ago.

Over the next five years, Hyman says the graduation rate will be at 20%. The number of degrees awarded annually will increase nearly 40 percent, and more than two-thirds of students will be employed in their area of training.

Hyman was joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who helped launch the College to Careers program.

"Years ago, the City of Chicago had the worst graduation rate of any community college in the country. Four weeks ago, the World Bank was studying what we're doing in the College to Career program as a model for every other city in the country," said Mayor Emanuel.

The 5-year plan also calls for more than half of the students transferring to four-year institutions following graduation. Like Latorie Washington, who received an associate's degree from Harold Washington College in business administration and is attending DePaul University in the fall.

"It's definitely a great opportunity not only for price, but for the people that care so much and they focus on the students so you know which field you want to go into and they will help you there," said Washington.

City Colleges plans to enter into agreements with four-year schools to boost the rate of transfer to bachelor's degree programs.

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