Chamber Participates in Free Community College Discussions in D.C. and Tennessee


The Indiana Chamber was recently asked to attend a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in Washington, D.C. to discuss the Obama administration’s plan for free community college, modeled after Tennessee Promise. Secretary Duncan reached out to seven states and Indiana was the first to participate in this forum.

Thirty leaders from Indiana – from the business community, higher education and community foundations – came to the White House to discuss the plan as well as the environment for such a plan being brought to Indiana. At this point in time, the Indiana Chamber has no position on the President’s proposal, but we would like to ensure that students have some sort of “skin in the game” and have significant questions on how this program would be funded.

The Chamber was then invited to a follow-up meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee this past week to learn more about Tennessee’s successful program – Tennessee Promise – which provides two free years of community college to all Tennessee high school graduates. This program involves a significant mentoring and service program with substantial buy-in from the employer community across the state. The group visited Chattanooga State Community College, the Volkswagen Training Academy, the Walker Institute, as well as met with faculty and administration representatives from Tennessee community colleges, legislators and agency heads to discuss higher education issues in their state.

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