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“On that you can rely.” This week’s US Labor Department numbers confirm the truth of the fundamental value of a college degree. From February to April the rate of unemployment went up by roughly 5 times, from 2.9% to 14.7%. While the 500% rate of increase, was consistent across the workforce, the impact was not. The February “full employment” numbers were an average, which on closer examination was also unevenly spread. For February, 2020, the unemployment rate for college graduates was less than 2%, and unemployment of those with less than a high-school education was already at 5.7%. Multiply each of those two numbers by five and you get wildly different outcomes. Unemployment for college graduates is now 8.4%, while the rate of unemployment for those seeking work with out a high-school diploma is 21.2%

It is also true that the “law of diminishing returns” continues to be something on which “you can rely.” As higher education becomes more expensive, the path that a student chooses to take and the price they pay for the journey becomes a riskier proposition. This risk can be managed, but wealthier students’ families tend to have more experience with successful investment in higher education. If lower-income and first-generation students are to get the best value for their investment, they must not only go to college, but make well-planned choices on where to go and what to study.

One solid career path with a great price is K-12 teaching with the Chicago Teacher Residency Program (CTR). Education Equity Fund NFP (EEF) offers supplemental support to high-potential, lower-resourced students who have chosen CTR. The Academy for Urban School Leadership’s (AUSL) CTR combines an Education Masters degree program at DePaul University with a full year of clinical classroom training in one of the AUSL’s Chicago Public Schools.
This summer, 75 residents will begin this program that will prepare them for jobs as teachers in Chicago Public Schools in September of 2021, just 16 months from now. EEF is confident that participation in this program will produce strong and positive outcomes, and thus offers Income Sharing Agreement funding to help these students.
The residents receive program funding In return for a fixed percentage of their salaries for their first five years of employment. Because payment is contingent on the student’s success, the agreement transfers financial risk from the student to the Fund.

Returns on this investment for the residents, the Fund and the City of Chicago are positive and in complete alignment. On this you can rely.