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Postsecondary Partnerships Open Doors & Change Futures in Appalachia

A group of community college students in Appalachia gather outside on campus.

Postsecondary Partnerships Open Doors & Change Futures in Appalachia

The IEL-coordinated Appalachian Higher Education Network released a report that tells the story of collaboration between education and workforce development institutions in Appalachia.

Appalachian Higher Education Network Releases Report on Postsecondary Attainment and Workforce Preparation in Appalachia

The Appalachian Higher Education Network (AHEN), an investment of the Appalachian Regional Commission that has been coordinated for over a decade by the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), published a report, Opening Doors, Changing Futures. It tells the story of how collaboration among education and workforce development institutions in 10 of the 13 states in the Appalachian region is leading to increases in postsecondary enrollment and, by definition, workforce preparation. The report shares program data, personal testimonials and stories to document the value and results of AHEN’s work during school years 2011-2016.

Cover: Opening Doors, Changing Futures: Postsecondary Education Attainment in Appalachia

The AHEN leadership mentor and co-author of Opening Doors, Changing Futures Elizabeth L. Hale says, “It is hoped the report will motivate readers to step-up their efforts to increase postsecondary education opportunity and attainment in Appalachia and, in the process, help to develop a stronger workforce and contribute to the development of a more prosperous region.”

Opening Doors, Changing Futures identifies the range and combination of services provided to area high schools that promoted increased postsecondary education access and success. It also calls attention to the urgency of providing more opportunities to rural students through partnership and collaboration with families, institutions, and communities, and shares strategic recommendations that will help policymakers and other stakeholders achieve this goal.

“The report is designed to continue the dialogue at local, state, and regional levels about how to create partnerships across Pre-K-20 systems and diverse constituencies to support young people, with a particular focus on building on the region’s assets and on working collaboratively,” explains IEL’s Dr. Helen Janc Malone.

The president of the Institute for Educational Leadership, Johan E. Uvin, commended the report, saying “Opening Doors, Changing Futures captures the power of the network and clearly illustrates the impact on students, schools, postsecondary paths, and communities and institutions.”

Uvin continues, “The strategic actions and recommendations for families and institutions are sound and align well with the cross-sector approaches and family and community engagement strategies IEL is advancing in all of its work at the intersection of education and workforce and community development in pursuit of a more equitable society.”

The work of AHEN documents how “opening doors” for young Appalachians supports them to access and succeed in postsecondary pathways, contributing to the overall prosperity of their communities and of the region.

A special report release event is taking place on February 23, 2018 at the Appalachian Regional Commission. This is part of a research series presented by the Institute for Educational Leadership in partnership with the American Education Research Association and will feature a panel of network members to describe their work and discuss the ongoing need to continue their efforts.

Media Contact: Helen Janc Malone,