Philadelphia named Talent Hub by Lumina Foundation

Students in a Center City classroom

Through Lumina grant, Temple University will contribute to community’s shared goals

With support from a grant from the Lumina Foundation, Temple University and several higher education partners in the Philadelphia region are developing programs that will help adults return to the classroom. 

The Lumina Foundation, whose primary mission is to “expand student access to and success in education beyond high school,” has designated Philadelphia, in addition to 16 other U.S. cities, as a “Talent Hub.” Philadelphia was chosen thanks to the city’s “impressive work to create environments that engage and foster the talent of today’s students, many of whom are people of color, first generation college students, and come from low-income households,” according to Lumina.

“These communities are the creative and entrepreneurial engines that power our nation,” said Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of the Lumina Foundation. The foundation is providing $350,000 to each Talent Hub community, of which Temple University will receive $68,500.

The Philadelphia Talent Hub includes the “Graduate! Philadelphia” program, which supports “Comebackers” — adults with partial college credit who want to return to school to complete their degrees.

Currently, 43 percent of American adults have some level post-secondary credential or degree. Lumina’s goal is 60 percent, according to the foundation. The collaborative partnership includes Temple, Chestnut Hill College, Community College of Philadelphia and Thomas Edison State University. 

“These partnership institutions will work to support low income adults with some college credit but no degree, particularly focusing on veterans and African American adults. The ultimate goal is to increase regional college degree completion through specialized student services and enhanced outreach,” said Dr. Vicki Lewis McGarvey, Vice Provost for University College, which consists of the Temple University Ambler, Center City and Harrisburg campuses in addition to the office on Non-Credit and Continuing Education and other specialized units. “There are currently 316,000 adults in the Philadelphia region who have some college credit and no degree. Each higher education institution will address changes and improvements that can be made in support of those returning to school for their degree.” 

According to William Parshall, Director of Temple University Center City, Temple University is the only public university in Philadelphia that offers a full range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional academic programs. In September 2016, there were 3,571 undergraduate students aged 25 years and over enrolled at Temple’s U.S. campuses, according to University records. 

“There are, however, a significant number of adult students who have paused completing their Temple degree for a variety of financial, academic, and personal reasons,” he said. “Temple has a long history of preparing adult students for the successful completion of an undergraduate degree.” 

Through the efforts of the Office of Continuing Studies and University College, Temple has the ability to track individual students as they move from non-degree to degree status using internal reporting. Advisors are available to meet with non-matriculated students for registration purposes and course planning, said Parshall. 

“The goal is to help each of these students matriculate, at which point their advising shifts from Continuing Studies to the new school/college within Temple University. These matriculated students at found at Temple Ambler, Temple Center City and Main Campus,” he said. “In addition to tracking the non-matriculated student population in Center City, the Temple University Center City Academic and Student Services Coordinator will serve as a liaison to other university services for adult students, such as Counseling and Career Services.” 

With the availability of evening classes and its geographic location at the center of the region’s public transit system, the Center City campus is ideally situated to serve an adult population,” said Parshall. 

“Having developed online general education courses, paired with the convenience of evening courses, Temple would like to see increased academic progress among the adult student population. Temple additionally intends to improve marketing strategies to better include equity populations and adult audiences,” he said. “Temple Center City’s Manager of Publications and Marketing will develop new print and online material to highlight programs available to adult students not only at Center City but throughout Temple University. A second initiative will focus on marketing the new career tools offered through the Office of Career Services to adult students.”

A third initiative will focus on current and prospective veteran students. The Military and Veterans Services Center will identify the resources available to students on Temple’s campuses and will make this information available to current students through new online and print material. 

“By continuing to develop new outreach methods, the university hopes to grow its population of adult learners and veterans looking to finish their education and earn a degree,” Parshall said. “Thanks to the support of the Lumina Foundation and in collaboration with the other Talent Hub partners, Temple hopes to see an increased rate of adult student graduations and completed degrees.”