Solutions for Our Future was launched in 2006 by a coalition of more than 700 organizations and institutions to increase awareness of the many ways in which American colleges and universities serve the public. Solutions for Our Future promoted the message that higher education addresses nearly all pressing societal needs by preparing the people who solve the problems and teaching people who change the world.
For more than four years, the Solutions for Our Future campaign promoted countless examples of how colleges and universities contribute to the economic and social health of our nation and the world. Although no longer actively distributing our messages, headlines, and highlights, the Solutions message continues to be an important part of our national conversation on the importance of postsecondary education. We appreciate your continued interest and efforts in support of our initiative.
At a time when our country is facing steep and extensive economic, social, and global challenges, we are not adequately investing in the human capital needed to meet those challenges. We are at risk of falling behind other countries in the education of our young people. State and federal funding squeezes have reduced public funds for higher education, forcing increases in tuition and cuts in access.
Investments in higher education generate social and economic returns that strengthen our country. The high- skills economy of the future needs an educated workforce. Because students who earn bachelor’s degrees generally earn higher salaries, they contribute more to the tax base; are less likely than the individuals without the degrees to be unemployed, in jail, or dependent on public assistance; and are more likely to vote, be healthy, and volunteer in their communities.
The country continues to reap benefits from the public investments in higher education and in research 40 and 50 years ago. We have an obligation to future generations to make similar investments today to ensure that colleges and universities continue to generate new ideas and new technologies and to educate the people who will have the know-how and the insight to solve problems and improve the quality of our lives.
Solutions for Our Future aims to establish a dialogue with the American people--and especially with opinion leaders and decision makers--to increase public understanding of the ways in which colleges and universities serve our society, and demonstrate why public investments in higher education benefit everyone.
The first goal of the project is not just to increase awareness of the contributions of colleges and universities to our collective well-being, but also to see that awareness reflected in public discourse. These institutions create communities where people can come together, learn from one another, and find solutions to societal problems. A well educated citizenry produces a stronger economy, better health, more engaged volunteerism and community involvement, greater voter participation, reduced reliance on public assistance, lower unemployment and crime rates, enhanced global understanding and competitiveness, greater adaptability and innovation, a richer cultural life, and more. Colleges and universities contribute by preparing and teaching the people who find solutions to society’s problems and create a better future for all of us.
The second goal of the project is to increase support for higher education as a public policy priority. A public investment produces long-term societal benefits in which everyone shares; it is an investment in solutions to society’s most pressing problems.
Our country needs not just to maintain investments in higher education—it needs to increase them to create the workforce for the future, sustain technological innovation and scientific advancement, maintain economic growth, and increase global competitiveness. This investment will be most effective if it ensures the widest possible access to college and a sustained commitment to quality.
And a third goal is to ensure that each campus is able to be fully engaged in doing its part to see that higher education meets the needs of our society. What that means will differ for individual institutions, but collectively it will mean better P-20 partnerships to improve academic preparation for college success, more need-based financial aid, and continuous attention to quality and cost control needed to warrant public confidence as well as public support.
This project is organized under the auspices of the American Council on Education (ACE), a Washington, D.C non-profit-based association that represents the full spectrum of American colleges and universities, and an advisory committee that includes representatives of community colleges, state colleges and universities, independent colleges and universities, historically black and Hispanic-serving institutions, and other organizations and individuals who care deeply about enhancing the capacity of American colleges and universities to serve the public and meet societal needs.
Partners in this effort include all of the major higher education associations, Educational Testing Service, College Board, National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), TIAA-CREF, Campus Compact, business and civic leaders, and thousands of colleges and universities all around the country.
Funds for the initiative come from ACE, and from donations from colleges and universities, with pro-bono and in-kind support from the business community including GSD&M of Austin, Texas, and First Worthing of Dallas, Texas. Our internet services are provided by Convio, and polling services from The Winston Group in partnership with Hart and Associates. Special thanks are due to Roy Spence, of GSD&M, and to Robert Utley, Chairman of the Board of First Worthing, whose vision and energy have animated this effort from the beginning.
Solutions for Our Health and Higher Education Goes Green
In 2008 Solutions for our Future launched two microsites Solutions for Our Health and Higher Education Goes Green in order to highlight the numerous ways in which American colleges and universities are working to improve the physical and environmental health of our nation and the wider world. By training healthcare professionals; discovering medical breakthroughs; reaching out to low-income communities to provide free medical care; creating and investing in renewable and alternative energy; reducing energy and water usage; and building “green” facilities—America’s college and universities are going green and improving the health of our nation.