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October 17, 2012

Lifting Women out of Poverty: The Important Role of Postsecondary Education


The Center for Women Policy Studies is honored and proud to share with all of our global colleagues and friends the following Statement from the Center – which was inspired by the wisdom and expertise of the women state legislators from throughout the United States who participated in our 2011 National Seminar for State Legislators on Access to Postsecondary Education for Low Income Women.

We invite all of you to endorse the Statement by sending an email to:

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Lifting Women Out of Poverty:

The Important Role of Postsecondary Education 

BECAUSE:  Education has always been a hallmark of the American dream; and

BECAUSE:  Since the founding of this Nation and its system of public education -- which includes community colleges and public land grant colleges and universities -- a college education has been a traditional route to lasting economic self-sufficiency and social mobility in the United States; and

BECAUSE:  There is a critical shortage of workers with postsecondary education certificates/degrees entering the United States workforce; and

BECAUSE:  Between 1973 and 2008, the share of jobs in the U.S. economy which required postsecondary education increased from 28 to 59 percent, and the share of jobs requiring some higher education will increase from 59 to 63 percent in the next decade; and

BECAUSE:  In six short years, we will need 22 million new college graduates, but will fall short of this number by at least three million postsecondary degrees; and

BECAUSE:  Our Nation will need at least 4.7 million new workers with postsecondary certificates; and

BECAUSE:  The need for postsecondary education is in ever increasing demand in the United States, low incomewomen's contribution cannot be underestimated; and

BECAUSE:  The importance of postsecondary education in poverty reduction cannot be overestimated when, amongwomen of 25 years and older living below the federal poverty level, 19 percent have a high school diploma and only 6 percent have a college degree; and

BECAUSE:  Women who earn four year college degrees increase their annual incomes most significantly - a trend that should benefit women moving from poverty and welfare to upward mobility in the workplace; and

BECAUSE:  Data show that Latinas with bachelor's degrees earned a median weekly income of $676, compared to $467 with an associate's degree and $406 with a high school diploma and that African American women with bachelor's degrees earned a median weekly income of $692, compared to $502 with an associate's degree and $395 with a high school diploma, and that white women with bachelor's degrees earned $744 weekly, compared to $579 with an associate's and $453 with a high school diploma; and

BECAUSE:  Welfare rolls have been slashed and states face financial crises, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients now more than ever require programs that will help them work their way out of poverty and into gainful employment and career pathways; and

BECAUSE:  Former TANF recipients with a college education are more likely to stay employed and less likely to return to TANF for any length of time; and

BECAUSE:  There is clear evidence that postsecondary education is an effective welfare reform strategy that will helpwomen move from poverty to economic security; and

BECAUSE:  A woman's college success has an enormous and positive impact on her children, who are more likely to take education seriously and aspire to go to college themselves; and

BECAUSE:  It is clear that reducing children's poverty on a large scale is virtually impossible without some effort to lift their parents out of poverty and into secure careers for which completing a two or four year college degree is essential.


* Policy leaders at all levels -- federal, state, and local -- to promote policies that create educational pathways forwomen and girls to pursue postsecondary education;

*Aggressive enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, in grades K through12 and postsecondary educational institutions;

*Increases in resources for support systems that help low income women pursue postsecondary education, including counseling and career development, child and dependent care, domestic violence screening and counseling and financial aid, for example;

*More resources for programs at the K through postsecondary education levels to increase women’s and girls' proficiency in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects, which will prepare them to enter and succeed in a growing number of lucrative fields and careers requiring this background; and

 *Changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) regulations to include postsecondary education as "an allowable work activity" -- thereby enabling TANF recipients to enroll in two and four year degree programs.

CLICK HERE to endorse the Statement!

Participants in the National Seminar for State Legislators on Access to Postsecondary Education for Low income Women (2011) 

Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck, UTAH

Representative Susan B. Chew, IDAHO

Senator Evie Hudak, COLORADO 

Senator Donzella J. James, GEORGIA 

Representative Joni L. Jenkins, KENTUCKY

Senator Molly Kelly, NEW HAMPSHIRE

Representative Rena Moran, MINNESOTA

Representative Mary Pennell Nelson, MAINE

Representative Carolyn Pease-Lopez, MONTANA

Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, NEW YORK

Representative Kesha Ram, VERMONT

Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, MASSACHUSETTS 

 Representative Senfronia Thompson, TEXAS

Representative Cindy Winckler, IOWA

Representative Valdenia C. Winn, KANSAS


CLICK HERE to join our Global Honor Roll of Leaders for Women's Human Rights

The Center's Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) designation code is #11963.


Our Mission: To promote women's human rights through enlightened public policy