A New Effort Helping Students in Rural America Gain More Access to College and Jobs is Underway in Missouri and Tennessee

School administrators, college and career advisors, students and community partners are gathering in Union, Missouri, today to recognize rootEd Alliance, a collaborative philanthropic effort to clear the path to a stronger future for students in rural America.

rootEd Alliance partners with organizations that are actively improving postsecondary access and completion among rural high school and college students. Working in high schools and community colleges, rootEd Alliance members provide students with advice, college and career exposure, and access to financial resources so that each student has the opportunity to get the education and training they need to pursue their goals after high school. With strategic guidance and oversight, rootEd Alliance links these organizations to create a holistic model, deeply informed by research and data, that supports students starting in high school through college graduation and beyond.

rootEd Alliance has already begun in nine communities across Missouri and Tennessee, working with more than 2,000 students and 12 college and career advisors as well as four dedicated advisors at the community college level. Participating high schools include Union High School, Cape Girardeau Central High School, Lebanon High School, Marshfield High School, Poplar Bluff High School, and Warrenton High School in Missouri, and three high schools in Lawrence County, Tennessee. Participating community colleges include Ozarks Technical Community College and Three Rivers College. rootEd Alliance will continue to expand to new schools this fall.

One-third of American students live in rural areas, yet less than five percent of philanthropic dollars go to the needs of rural communities1. Only 26 percent of students in these areas graduate with a bachelors or associates degree2, even though by 2020, four out of five jobs that pay middle class wages will require education beyond high school3.

rootEd Alliance grew out of our belief in the power of education to change lives, unlock students potential and address the unique needs of rural America, said Noa Meyer, rootEd Alliance board member and head of Philanthropy and Social Impact at BDT & Company, LLC. High school students are not receiving the opportunities and preparation they deserve for life after high school, and colleges and local industry are missing out on talented students. We hope to scale this partnership to more schools, advisors and local communities to help prepare more students for life after high school.

Over the past year, rootEd Alliance advisors have worked alongside us to help students from all academic levels broaden their perspective on where their talents can take them, said Dr. Steve Weinhold, Superintendent of Union R-XI School District in Missouri. Im proud to say that the vast majority of our graduates this year are going on to two and four-year colleges, pursuing technical degrees and vocational programs, and all together exploring how they can contribute to the growth and vibrancy of our community and the local economy.

rootEd Alliance was borne out of BDT & Companys commitment to building impactful social projects that bring donors together around big ideas that are under-resourced and overlooked by the philanthropic sector, with great need and great potential for impact. The rootEd Alliance pilot program has been made possible by BDT & Company and a group of family business owners and individuals including the Trott Family Foundation, Steward Family Foundation, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Barbara and Andy Taylor and the William T. Kemper Foundation, among others, all of whom are committed to improving educational opportunity across their home states.

Since my time growing up in Union, the gaps in access to postsecondary education for students from rural areas and small towns, and the gaps between young people with and without a degree, have continued to widen, said Byron Trott, Union (Missouri) High School graduate and founder, chairman and CEO of BDT & Company, LLC. That is why, together with these families, we supported the creation of rootEd Alliance to prepare rural students for stronger futures. We have partnered with local and national organizations actively involved in improving postsecondary access and completion among rural high school and college students.

There is no single model for success after high school, and each student deserves the opportunity to pursue his or her educational and career goals, said John Kemper. We are working with rootEd Alliance and their partners to bring attention to the lack of access for rural students as we aim to improve educational and vocational opportunity at schools and communities across Missouri.

For more information on participating schools and partners, or to get involved with the rootEd Alliance, please visit www.rootedalliance.org.

About rootEd Alliance

rootEd Alliance is a collaborative philanthropic effort to clear the path to a stronger future for students in rural America who may lack resources, guidance or both. Through a network of implementing partners, rootEd Alliance provides advice, exposure and access to college and career opportunities.

About BDT & Company

BDT & Company is a Chicago-based merchant bank that provides advice and long-term capital through its affiliated funds to help family- and founder-led businesses pursue their strategic and financial objectives.

1 John L. Pender, Foundation Grants to Rural Areas From 2005 to 2010: Trends and Patterns, USDA Economic Research Service (June 2015); Ryan Schlegel, Is Rural America Philanthropys Final Frontier? National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy (November 2, 2015)

2 High School Benchmarks 2017: National College Progression Rates, National Student Clearinghouse (October 24, 2017)

3 Anthony P. Carnevale, Artem Gulish, and Jeff Stroll, Educational Adequacy in the Twenty-First Century, The Century Foundation (May 2, 2018); Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Jeff Stroll, Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020, Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce (June 2013)

Media Contact
Caroline Bourdeau on behalf of rootEd Alliance
[email protected]