Growing Inland Achievement (GIA), a regional collective impact organization seeking to improve the Inland Empire economy by increasing regional levels of degree attainment, has received a $25,000 grant from Bank of America to support adult and professional education in the Inland Empire.

GIA facilitates collaboration among regional stakeholders to identify and implement measurable strategies to create institutional change and increase regional educational attainment levels.

“This generous grant from Bank of America will support GIA’s initiatives to bring together regional leaders to examine viable strategies and review institutional opportunities, alleviating barriers to college education for adult learners,” said Dr. Carlos Ayala, CEO at GIA. “We are very grateful for Bank of America’s commitment to advancing the Inland Empire and improving the quality of life for our residents, especially during these unprecedented times.”

Families in the Inland Empire struggle with generational poverty and the ability to earn a living wage as a result of low postsecondary education attainment rates. Although the Inland Empire is the most populous region in California, adults here are less likely to pursue higher education than in other areas of the state, and many of those who do enroll in college are not able to finish their education.

“There is a direct correlation between educational achievement and income, and tackling the Inland Empire’s education gap is key creating sustainable financial stability in the region. The strategic work of Growing Inland Achievement will be even more important following the crisis to prepare adults with the education and skills training for potential new professions,” said Al Arguello, Inland Empire market president, Bank of America.

“Nearly one in four adults in the Inland Empire has some college attainment but has not completed a degree,” said Sorrel Stielstra, Director of Research at GIA. “We need to open doors for these individuals to return to school, earn postsecondary credentials, thrive in the workforce, and contribute to our regional economy.”

GIA tracks regional data on educational attainment and its link to the labor market in the region. On average, individuals in the Inland Empire who have earned a Bachelor’s degree earn approximately $24,000 more annually than those with just a high school degree. GIA has plans to host a series of data workshops in the fall to explore the regional alignment between educational and occupational pathways, which may help to inform decision-making in response to the effects of the global pandemic on the region.

A portion of grant funds from Bank of America will support efforts to identify and recruit key community members to serve on an adult and professional education Action Network Team and accomplish three goals:

1)    Identify specific areas of support needed for adult learners to return to and/or complete their education;

2)    Identify realistic implementation strategies;

3)    Create a data collection and measurement process to measure impact and inform policy.

Action Network Teams are the backbone of GIA’s collective impact model and bring together the Inland Empire higher education network, regional educators that combine expertise to work toward a vision of student success. 

Growing Inland Achievement is a bi-county, collective impact intermediary in the Inland Empire that brings together leaders across K-20 education, civic, and business sectors. GIA organizes and collaborates with the Inland Empire Educational Network to create innovative practices that achieve large-scale social and institutional change. Visit our website, inlandempiregia.org, to learn more.