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Among the nationís thirty-five largest metropolitan areas, the five having the greatest share of college graduates are Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington, D.C.
Which five metros with the highest median household incomes? The same quintet.
How about the St. Louis area? 24th out of 35 in college graduate share, a comparable 27th out of 35 in median household income. Weíre clearly below the middle of our pack.
More than ever, education drives economic success, both for individuals and for regions. College graduates not only earn more themselves. They also create wealth for others lower on the educational ladder.
But having a post-secondary certificate or degree is not just about economic success. It is also about making equality of opportunity a reality. Currently in St. Louis, if a young person comes from a low income household, has little or no history of post-secondary education in the family, or is African American, there are daunting challenges.
Many local nonprofits and all of the areaís colleges and universities have programs addressing these obstacles but, with their current limited resources, they are reaching at most one out of every three who would benefit.
Thatís why the College Access Pipeline Project, a new initiative to catapult St. Louis into the top performance range, is so important for the region. Increasing post-secondary education rates is an investment that will accelerate economic growth and social justice.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Terry Jones is Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.