BOISE -- Idaho has one of the lowest rates of high school students who continue to some form of post-secondary education in the country.

We're ranked 47 out of 50.

Superintendents in the Treasure Valley aren't proud of that ranking. In fact, some have joined together to promote ongoing education through planning and support.

We started talking about what we could do together to improve the lives of students, said Pat Charlton, the Vallivue School District Superintendent.

Three years ago, the superintendents from Boise, Caldwell, Emmett, Kuna, Meridian, Middleton, Mountain Home, Nampa, and Vallivue, along with the president of Bishop Kelly High School created the Treasure Valley Education Partnership (TVEP). Their goal is to support students from their cradle all the way to their career.

Soon, businesses, non-profits and universities got involved with TVEP. All of them wanted to help build a strong education foundation in our schools.

Skip Oppenheimer is president of the Oppenheimer Development Corporation. Oppenheimer says students have to be successful in school in order to have successful careers. The reality is two-thirds of the jobs in the next few years, by 2020, are going to require a two year, a four year (degree) or beyond, Oppenheimer said.

Today more than 70 Treasure Valley businesses support theTVEP program.

It all started moving very quickly, said Charlton.

United Way stepped in to the be the backbone organization. Afterward, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho, the Treasure Valley YMCA and other non-profit groups became partners to help the TVEP grow.

It was a collaborative model, a model where people were actually working together, said Oppenheimer.

The TVEP has six clear goals. The group is focused on ensuring that every child:

1) Is prepared for school.

2) Is supported inside and outside of school.

3) Succeeds academically.

4) Enrolls in and completes some form of post high school education.

5) Enters their career of choice.

6) Is supported through meaningful career progression.

Because a large part of the TVEP's focus is on making sure students go on to some type of post secondary education, Idaho's higher education leaders are another group that is helping with the program.

It's a real grassroots effort and an opportunity to make a difference in a local way, said the Dean of the University of Idaho's College of Education, Corinne Mantle-Bromley. It is really critical to the states economy that we have graduates in areas where jobs are being produced.

Already people feel progress is being made, but leaders know there is a lot of work ahead of them.

We are at the point now where people are actually sitting down and we are coming up with concrete steps to help put the plan into place, said Charlton. Right now, the TVEP is focusing on making sure students are prepared for school, supported inside and outside of school and enrolls in and completes some form of post secondary education.

By working together we think we can see some meaning results and continued improved outcomes, said Oppenheimer.

Each quarter TVEP has advisory group meetings. The meetings are open to the public so anyone can share his or her input on education. The next meeting is October 18, at 2:00 p.m. at the Joint Meridian School District Service Center.

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