SALT LAKE CITY- (January 11, 2011) Business, community and education leaders have formalized an unprecedented partnership to enhance educational performance and place Utah on the path to enduring prosperity.
The movement is called Prosperity 2020 and it sets ambitious goals for public and higher education over the next decade. By 2020, organizers want 90 percent of Utah students to achieve math and reading proficiency and for two-thirds of Utahns 20 years of age and older to have a skilled trade certificate or college degree.
“Utah has the potential to deploy the largest youth population in the country as the greatest work force in the country,” said Mark Bouchard, senior managing partner of CB Richard Ellis and the chair of Prosperity 2020. “The business community is ready to join forces with community organizations as well as public and higher education to put us on the path to enduring prosperity.”
Historically, there has been no shortage of groups working to improve education—each with varying degrees of success. Organizers say Prosperity 2020’s partnerships make this effort different.
“I know there will be skeptics because I’ve seen efforts come and go, too,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber who also served in the Utah Senate for over a decade. “This collaboration is distinct because it involves business leaders in every county, workers from every industry and students from every school and college. We’ll succeed because we have a clear vision and because we’re all working toward the same goals.”
Those difference-making partnerships include a strong business element with 13 chambers of commerce from across the state: Brigham City Area Chamber of Commerce, Cedar City Area Chamber, Davis Chamber, Lehi Area Chamber of Commerce, Murray Area Chamber of Commerce, Ogden/Weber Chamber, Richfield Area Chamber, Salt Lake Chamber, Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce, South Jordan Chamber of Commerce, South Salt Lake Chamber, St. George Area Chamber and the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce. Other organizations including Citizens for Educational Excellence, Economic Development Corporation of Utah, Friends of Higher Education, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Junior Achievement of Utah, United Way of Salt Lake and Utah Technology Council all will play an important role in the Prosperity 2020 movement.
Perhaps more important than the geographic and industrial breadth of the coalition is the unity of vision. The focus on improving math and reading scores for elementary students will help build the foundation of learning and improve performance for Utah students throughout their academic careers. The emphasis on post-secondary education—including skilled trade certificates—will ensure the state’s workforce is prepared for the jobs that will make up the Utah economy. A recent Georgetown University study shows by 2020, two-thirds of all jobs in the Utah economy will require post-secondary education.
“We’re focused on basic steps that will make a real difference,” said Bouchard. “Focusing on basic reading and math will keep students from falling behind. That builds the momentum that keeps them in school, helps cultivate a love for learning and ultimately prepares them to help our state fulfill its potential.”