Spartanburg Academic Movement Announces Commitment to Expand College Access at White House Event

On Thursday, December 4, representatives of the Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM) joined President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with other national education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college. 


Spartanburg participants included Dr. John Stockwell, Executive Director of the Spartanburg Academic Movement; Dr. Scott Mercer, Superintendent of School District 2; and Kathy Dunleavy, President of the Mary Black Foundation. 

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.  

The Spartanburg Academic Movement (SAM) is a partnership of County educators, and corporate and community leaders committed to elevating academic achievement, cradle to career, assuring that all of the County’s children are well-educated for life and work in the 21st century economy. The goal of the Movement is that every Spartanburg County young person will graduate high school ready to complete post-secondary certifications or degrees, equipping them for career readiness.

According to Stockwell, “the invitation to participate in this White House Summit is the product of Spartanburg County’s ability to collaborate in the interests of all its citizens, a collective impact approach to problem solving for which our county is increasingly well-known and nationally recognized.” 

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 announced 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. The event was the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and included 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 competition.