Spring 2019

Learn to Earn Dayton: Former Microsoft CEO Encourages Collaboration on Region’s Educational Attainment Efforts

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Connie Ballmer (right)
with Ohio State Senator Peggy Lehner at a recent meeting about
Learn to Earn Dayton at The Dayton Foundation

Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, and his wife Connie Ballmer, co-founder of Ballmer Group and civic activist, visited Dayton recently to hear from Tom Lasley, CEO of Learn to Earn Dayton (L2ED), state legislators and local community and educational leaders about the successes and hurdles of the region’s cradle to career efforts. Understanding how these efforts are fostering positive trends in kindergarten readiness, high school graduation, and college enrollment and graduation rates is an important aspect of Ballmer Group’s work and their grant to StriveTogether, a national nonprofit network of nearly 70 community partnerships including L2ED.

“We’re huge believers in education and are excited to be here and learn more about what the people of Dayton are doing to help the next generation and to increase educational attainment for all,” Steve Ballmer said. “People have to say ‘I’m in.’ I’m going to spend some time on it, and I’m going to ask my people to spend some time. We’re going to take this work very seriously.”

“In just seven years, the number of [Montgomery County] adults with a two- or four-year degree has increased over six percentage points.... double the growth rate in Ohio and the nation.”
– Tom Lasley, CEO, Learn to Earn Dayton

In recent years, L2ED has received significant recognition and funding from local and national organizations for its work. The Lumina Foundation, which designated Dayton as one of the 17 national “talent hubs,” awarded $350,000 in 2017, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, recently provided a $150,000 planning grant. Additionally, Cincinnati’s StriveTogether has committed $500,000 for 2018-19 with a potential additional $1 million over the next two years as part of its Cradle to Career Community Challenge aimed at improving outcomes and reducing racial and socioeconomic disparities in communities across the nation. Ballmer Group, which is investing $60 million over six years toward the plan, hopes to accelerate collaborative cradle to career efforts. L2ED was one of only 16 community projects in the nation awarded this funding, which L2ED is using to place equity fellows in Montgomery County school districts, including Dayton Public Schools.

“Thanks in part to StriveTogether’s support, we will be better able to improve the region’s attainment levels of two-and four-year degrees and create a next-generation workforce for the region and the state,” Tom Lasley said. “This is an incredible opportunity, and we are so thankful to the Ballmers and their compassion toward giving our nation’s children equal opportunities for educational success.”

Strides already are being made in the county. Based on the American Community Survey, Montgomery County has increased its overall intellectual capital at twice the state and national average, a fact that L2ED leadership proudly shared with the Ballmers.

“Efforts such as Preschool Promise are having a marked impact in the region,” Tom said. “In just seven years, the number of adults with a two- or four-year degree has increased over six percentage points – from 34 percent in 2010 to 40.6 percent in 2017. That’s double the growth rate in Ohio and the nation.”

Said State Senator Peggy Lehner, who also was in attendance, “I couldn’t be more excited to align Learn to Earn Dayton’s funders around state resources. We have a tremendous opportunity to move the needle even further. Learn to Earn is a shining star for the families of Dayton, the state and the nation.” ❧

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File date: 4.11.19
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