The graduation rate for Massachusetts Community Colleges is stuck at about 17% [that may be a bit low, as it doesn't count those who do graduate but get a two year degree in six or seven years - per the Massachusetts Area Planning Council's figures]. See http://www.metrofuture.org/
THE NEW IDEA: Many residents in their 40s-60s have homes with empty bedrooms because their own children have graduated, married, moved on.
Foster care and DSS services basically end at 18. For that reason among others, young people in the 18-24 year range who have aged out of foster care often lack homes and adult guidance. These are state-created “legal orphans”.
Additionally, some young adults who have been adopted are never successfully integrated into their adopted families and also find themselves without support during the “normal” college and trade school education period.
Massachusetts is poor in manufacturing and entry level work as well as having very high housing costs. For this reason, many of these young adults may start a community college, perhaps with tuition assistance, but cannot keep a roof over their heads, and may move to a “cheaper state” to survive and drop out.
Even without being made into legal orphans by the state, many other young adults must support themselves fully with no help from a kinship system. Many work very hard, taking one or two classes a semester for years while struggling to survive in the harsh Massachusetts economy.
I call our economy “harsh” because while 90,000 jobs requiring college degrees go unfilled, minimum wage jobs are not sufficient to secure housing and food without working more than one job for most young adults, as well as having multiple room mates. Our manufacturing sector is also shrinking, though once those jobs provided real livelihoods.
Several times over the years, about seven times, to my best recollection, friends of our own college student kids found themselves through no fault of their own without housing.
We took them in one by one, in bunk beds, and they found jobs, returned to college, and stayed with us until they could live independently. These were young adults between age 20 and 24 who had parents move out of state while they were in college, or had no functioning parent, etc.
Each of them abided by house rules, went to school, found jobs, paid off debt, and are today living independently. All of them joined our household homeless and in danger of dropping out.
They all followed house rules, which included that our home is tobacco free, alcohol free, drug free and a place where we treat each other with respect and courtesy [from time to time what constitutes "respect and courtesy" became a typed contract - just as good fences make good neighbors, clear rules make for good boundaries].
I propose a “Contract for College Program” where such young adults and host families would sign a contract. The unused bedrooms in those empty-nester homes would slow the leakage of our young adults to other states.
Such a program would also raise college graduation rates and keep those jobs in Massachusetts that, because they cannot now be filled here, lead companies to locate elsewhere. The same administrative structure created for the Commonwealth Corps could administer this program.