A local group wants to increase the number of Escambia County residents with a college degree by 20 percent by 2025.

Achieve Escambia has received a $20,000 planning grant from the Florida College Access Network to support a new effort dedicated to supporting pathways to postsecondary education and employment in Escambia County.

Currently, Escambia County’s postsecondary attainment rate is 40.1%. The Florida College Access Network’s goal is to increase that achievement rate to 60% by 2025.

To reach this goal, Achieve Escambia will create a Local College Access Network. The group will include leaders representing a variety of sectors to build a culture that supports postsecondary opportunity in Escambia County. The  partnership will focus not only on increasing college readiness, access and completion, but also on supporting collaborative initiatives that can raise attainment rates in tangible ways.

“We are the first local network in the Panhandle to connect with a broader statewide strategy designed to provide all high school graduates with clear paths to postsecondary success,” said Kimberly Krupa, director of Achieve Escambia.

“We know that moving the needle on something as big as postsecondary attainment is not the responsibility of  one individual or organization,” said Debbie Calder, executive vice president of Navy Federal Credit Union and chair of the Achieve Escambia Leadership Council. “This is all about bringing people together across many sectors to seriously focus on what we need to do to improve education and workforce outcomes.”

Laurie Meggesin, executive director of the Florida College Access Network, said local college access networks like Achieve Escambia are in the best position to close gaps that exist between the skills of local workers and the needs of current and future employers.