Serving Monroe, Owen, and Greene Counties

Monroe County named Indiana College Success County

Monroe County recognized for efforts to increase graduation rates and improve college and career readiness.

Monroe County has been named as an Indiana College Success County for our community-wide efforts to increase the number of residents with education and training beyond high school. Members from the Monroe County High School Plus Coalition steering committee, including Barry Lessow and Ashley Hall, accepted the award from Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers during a special ceremony held at the Indiana Statehouse on May 8.

“We are so proud of the many local leaders—from K-12, higher education, business, government and community organizations—who have come together to increase education opportunity and student success in Indiana,” said Lubbers. “Creating a culture of college access and success can only happen when the vision is shared by the entire community.”

The Indiana College Success County award was presented to the 26 counties that established a coalition of community organizations to promote graduation and improve college and career success. To earn the Indiana College Success County award, coalitions created a data-driven strategic plan to increase the percentage of the community’s recent high school graduates and returning adults who enter a postsecondary institution and earn a credential, including one-year workforce certificates, two- and four-year college degrees, apprenticeships, and military training. Member organizations also documented the implementation of their programs and shared them with other coalitions across the state. In recognition of local efforts, Monroe County was awarded an Indiana College Success County road sign, which will be displayed at the entrance of our county.

The High School Plus Coalition helps all Monroe County youth to grow, graduate, and pursue their goals. The Coalition brings together over 40 organizations, including schools, businesses, the justice system, and local nonprofits. Accomplishments during the past two years include financial aid workshops, college campus visits, professional career internships and job shadowing, in-school Graduation Coaches,
College Goal Sunday, tutoring and homework help, formalized mentorships, and much more. It is convened by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Monroe County.

"The Coalition’s diverse representation was showcased at the winter summit in February 2013 where over 40 community members came together to work on developing a resource tool that would centralize college and career resources available in Monroe County. The HS+ Coalition is dedicated to increasing access to information and tools that help families navigate the difficult choices that high school students face," explained co-coordinator Macy Hughes, The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Franklin Initiative Manager.

"The statistics for youth who drop out are sobering - they are likely to earn about $260,000 less than high school graduates and $1 million less than college graduates; they are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as their peers who graduated, and more than eight times as likely to be in jail or prison. High school drop outs are even at higher risk for many health conditions, causing them to live six to nine years less than high school graduates. This is why the High School Plus Coalition is so important - we are coming together as a community to make sure that kids successfully finish high school and leave with a purposeful plan for their future," explained co-coordinator Ashley Hall, United Way of Monroe County Community Initiatives Director.

Local organizations are encouraged to join the High School Plus Coalition by contacting Ashley Hall ( or Macy Hughes ( Visit for more information about the High School Plus Coalition.

Pictured above are (L-R): Barry Lessow, United Way of Monroe County Executive Director; Peggy Mayfield, State Representative House District 60; Macy Hughes, The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Franklin Initiative Manager; Jan Bergeson, MCCSC Director of Secondary Education; Vanessa McClary, Kiwanis International Governor-Elect & Eliminate District Coordinator; Beth Krouse, RBB Family/Community Engagement Coordinator; Ashley Hall, United Way of Monroe County Community Initiatives Director; and Teresa Lubbers, Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education.

Do you feel passionate about strengthening education supports in our community?

Please consider donating to the United Way Education Priority Fund. This fund helps children achieve their potential through cradle-to-career initiatives that ensure kids enter kindergarten ready to learn and graduate high school ready to earn success in college or career.

Want to learn more about the other building blocks for a good life? Visit Earnings and Essentials to see how we are making an impact.


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