Capital City: Providence’s Educational Scene

By Mayor Jorge Elorza

Providence has the largest concentration of institutions of higher learning in the state. Among those bodies are Brown University, Providence College (PC), Johnson & Wales University (JWU), Rhode Island College (RIC), the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), many trade and vocational schools, and satellite campuses of the University of Rhode Island (URI), the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), and Roger Williams University (RWU).

A proud member of the Ivy League, Brown is among the most prestigious and innovative universities in the country, and along with other private colleges, they are among the largest contributors to our local economy. Together, Brown, PC, and JWU employ 5.05% of the employees in the Creative Capital –that’s about 6,100 jobs directly with countless others sustained indirectly. The resources and promise  by Mayor Jorge Elorza This means partnering with post- of our locally established institutions stretch far beyond Providence’s neighborhoods.

Yet a problem lurks amidst such promise—a large portion of this invaluable talent leaves Providence

after graduation. Others are unable to acquire experience in their fields and must be content with underemployment. Earlier last month I announced the formation of my Millennial Task Force, a group of young engaged and motivated Providence young adults that share the City’s goal of retaining our graduates.

In the coming months, their recommendations will help to guide my administrations’ policy initiatives that aim to keep the innovative talent here in Rhode Island. In order to ensure future success, we need to form lasting partnerships with business leaders, officials, and institutions of higher learning. We need to understand and meet the needs of our Millennials and the new knowledge-based economy.

This means partnering with post- secondary schools to ensure their degree programs, their technologies, and their infrastructures are ones that will prepare students to excel in an information-based economy. It requires finding creative ways to transform Providence into a city that better serves its current and future workforce by improving public transportation and continuing to enrich our arts and culture.

The quality of higher education is one of Providence’s and Rhode Island’s strongest resources. If we work together to act on our present realities, we can make long-term decisions that move us towards a city that works for the future, and towards an innovative and creative New Providence.

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