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The Community Foundation brainstorms how to meet "25/25" goal

By ALLISON NORLIAN

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Community Foundation of Oneida and Herkimer county hosted a strategic session at the RCIL in Utica on Tuesday, in order to brainstorm with community leaders, college administrators and educators about how to reach their 25/25 initiative goal.

The foundations goal is to increase the number of students who attend four year universities by 25 percent by the year 2025. The idea was adopted by the board last year in order to promote and better local economies as well as to increase the number of community members in the job force.

Barbara Henderson, the Vice President for the Programs and Community Initiatives said, " We think its really important because we know communities where there is a larger percentage of educated people that have bachelors or higher degrees experience a higher level of health, provide a better tax base, tend to be recession proof, are less likely to lose jobs when there is an economic down turn and they make a larger salary over the course of their life time which can provide a better quality of life for them and their children... Also people with bachelors degrees are more likely to have children with bachelors degrees so it's a perpetuating cycle."

Their plan is to target 10 and 11 year old kids who would be graduating in the year 2025 by promoting internships, mentor-ships and entrepreneurship.

Eve Vandewal, the Regional President for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield said they already have a plan in place but was at the meeting to support the idea, "We have about 100 local employees and half of them need a bachelor degree for the jobs that they do... so we try to promote education within Excellus. We pay for tuition and we get students in high school and college to come in and intern to tell them what's available if they get a further education whether its a two year degree or a four year degree but we want them to know the opportunities that are offered if they do get a 4 year degree."

They also will create a plan of action to target non-traditional students who may have a job but want a better one and can only do so with a four year bachelor degree.

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