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We envision an educated citizenry that powers a prosperous and resilient economy and vibrant, civically engaged communities.

The Economic Imperative

Vermont sits on a precipice. Facing challenges ranging from an aging population to declining wages, and automation to climate change, the people of our state must be as nimble, adaptive, and empowered as ever. As Vermont rises to these challenges, the job market will adapt to reflect new workforce demands and increased education and training after high school will be vital. The McClure Foundation predicts that over the next nine years, 72% of high-pay, high-demand jobs will require a postsecondary credential. Such jobs include electrical power-line installers, web developers, licensed practical nurses, and special education teachers – each requiring a different level of education or type of training. Not enough people living in Vermont have the necessary experience to fill jobs in our state’s growing sectors, and employers are already feeling the strain of an under-credentialed population: as of April 2019, the Vermont Business Roundtable reports that 76 percent of employers in Vermont are facing difficulty hiring for open positions. The good news? Roughly 136,000 people living in Vermont are eligible to earn their first postsecondary credential – and if only 36,000 of these people do so, Vermont will meet our 70 percent attainment goal.


72% of Vermont’s high-pay, high-demand jobs require a postsecondary credential.

Before financial aid, an average low-income Vermont family would spend 95% of its annual income to send one person to college.

The Equity Imperative

Vermonters facing marginalization, discrimination, and systemic injustice experience unique roadblocks in their pursuit of postsecondary credentials that their advantaged peers do not. These barriers are too often invisible to the people who do not experience then. Every person living in Vermont is impacted by social, political, and economic structures, and we must work to understand the multifaceted ways these systems support and hinder people’s ability to earn postsecondary credentials. And because no one holds just one identity, we must attend to the intersections of identity-based discrimination and exclusion. Vermont is home to a stunning group of budding builders, activists, welders, scientists, farmers, teachers, and more. So that people from all walks of life find belonging in our workplaces and educational institutions, Vermont must invest in promising practices and policy innovations to address structural injustice in postsecondary attainment.

Moving the Needle

34 percent of Vermonters without an educational credential believe postsecondary credential programs are affordable.

A Collective Force for Change

Here in Vermont, silos belong on farms and farms alone. Accessing, affording, and completing a postsecondary credential is the result of myriad supports: families, friends, schools, communities, lending institutions, direct services, etc. These same types of alliances are also necessary at the systems level. In order to ensure that every Vermont resident can access and complete education and training after high school, collaboration among leaders from business, education, government, nonprofit, and philanthropy is essential. Breaking down barriers across these five sectors allows different groups to share aspirations and goals, creatively innovate solutions to complex barriers, and leverage the expertise and commitment of stakeholders across the state. As a collective impact initiative, we strive to activate and equip a diverse array of Vermont community members to act as a united force for transformative change.



88% of people in Vermont would be willing to take advantage of education or career advancements if offered.

The Path Forward

In order to meet Vermont’s attainment goal, the State identified four policy priorities through Act 80 of 2019:

Promote awareness of career pathways and the value of postsecondary education and training

Expand postsecondary access so that students of all ages and backgrounds can pursue postsecondary education and training

Increase completion of postsecondary education and training by ensuring Vermonters have the supports they need to succeed

Maximize partnerships across and within sectors to achieve state workforce development and education goals

“The prosperity of Vermont’s people and its communities is directly tied to the extent to which every person in Vermont can access, afford, and attain education and training after high school.”

Tom Cheney

Director of Advance Vermont


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