Cincinnati State announces commitment to expand college access at White House event

December 3, 2014

Robert White
Media Relations/Communications Coordinator
(513) 569-4775 (office)
(859) 468-6640 (cell)

Cincinnati State announces commitment to expand college access at White House event

Today, Cincinnati State President O’dell M. Owens will join President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice 
President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to 
announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.  

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the President’s commitment to 
partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the 
country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

Cincinnati State is committing to triple the number of students who transition from its STEM Academy to 
the college each year. Its plan calls for expanding dual enrollment among STEM Academy students and 
achieving a college graduation rate for this group that is at least double the normal rate for this student 

“Cincinnati State is extremely pleased the White House and Department of Education has chosen to 
recognize The Cincinnati State Stem Academy as an outstanding example of how to prepare and 
graduate more students from college,” said Cincinnati State President O’dell M. Owens.

This is the second time Dr. Owens has been honored by the White House for his work at Cincinnati State. 
In 2012, he was chosen by the White House as a “Weekly Champion of Change” for innovation and 
education. He has also been invited by President and Mrs. Obama to attend the annual White House 
Christmas Tree lighting ceremony today (Thursday, Dec. 4). 

Cincinnati State opened the state-sponsored STEM Academy – a community charter school – in Autumn, 
2012.  Three in four students at the school qualify for free or reduced price lunches; most are African-
American. The STEM Academy operates on Cincinnati State’s Clifton campus with no barriers – its 
classrooms are next to college classrooms, and the lunch area is next to the college student cafeteria.  

The academy is highly focused on developing science and math skills, with an emphasis on project-
based learning and partnerships with the local community, and the students participate in the college’s 
STEM related events throughout the year.

The current STEM Academy enrollment is limited to 200 students, but Cincinnati State plans not only to 
expand the high school, but to develop a pipeline of students who are prepared and interested in math 
and science, particularly drawing low-income students onto college tracks and into careers in STEM.

Over the next few years Cincinnati State aims to increase the number of students who transition from the 
high school to the college and expand dual (concurrent) enrollment by implementing College Credit Plus, 
the Ohio system’s strategy for maximizing dual college and high school enrollment.  This will enable 
students to start a pathway leading to completion of 15 college credits during their high school years.  In 
the next three years the college aims grow from the 17 high school graduates that matriculated to 
Cincinnati State this year to 50 per year, and achieve a college graduation rate that is at least double the 
normal rate for this population.
At the White House event, participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building 
networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, 
investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the 
number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The President will announce new steps on how his Administration is helping to support these actions, 
including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps 
program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. 

Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and will include a progress report on the 
commitments made at the first day of action on January 14, 2014. 

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and 
underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class.  Today, only 
9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, 
compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama 
Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity 
Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of 
income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and 

Cincinnati State ( enrolls more than 10,500 students and offers more than 130 
associate degree and certificate programs in business technologies, health and public safety, engineering 
technologies, humanities and sciences and information technologies. Cincinnati State has one of the 
most comprehensive co-op programs among two-year colleges in the U.S.