closing equity gaps to ensure minnesota's future

A college study group gathers around a table scattered with books and notepads.

What is Forward Together?

A collaborative discussion among leaders in education, industry and community focused on reaching the educational attainment goal by increasing the number of adults enrolling in and completing an education or training program in Minnesota.

What is the educational attainment goal?

In 2015, the Minnesota State Legislature set a goal to get 70 percent of Minnesotans within each racial and ethnic group, ages 25-44, to obtain a postsecondary certificate or higher by 2025.

After more than a year of challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota is looking forward to a brighter future, with increased opportunity for all Minnesotans to skill-up, earn a college credential, and improve their economic outlook. As the state works toward the goal of eliminating educational attainment gaps, Forward Together partners are engaging with community leaders to identify ways to build momentum and strategies to bolster local support.

Educational attainment refers to the highest level of education an individual has completed. With the vast majority of jobs across the nation requiring a post-high school education or training, the State of Minnesota recognizes the need for an educational system that makes learning accessible across all racial and ethnic groups.

How Close Are We?


Current Rate


Goal Rate

Credentials Needed

Credentials Needed by Race and Ethnicity

American Indian
6,300 (6%)
Latino 37,600 (37%)
Black 34,200 (34%)
Multiracial 3,900 (4%)
Asian 5,000 (5%)
White 12,800 (13%)

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education’s vision for eliminating educational attainment gaps in Minnesota by 2025, includes:

Ensuring all high school graduates have a postsecondary career plan

Guaranteeing all high school graduates are prepared for postsecondary course level work

Eliminating postsecondary enrollment gaps among racial and ethnic groups by 2025

Eliminating gaps in postsecondary persistence and completion rates among racial and ethnic groups by 2025

Reengaging adults with some college, no degree, or adults with no prior postsecondary experience

Why DOes it Matter?

Education and training positively impact the economic stability and well-being of Minnesotans. According to data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), over 68 percent of the jobs that pay a sustainable living wage require education or training beyond high school. 

With high educational attainment, consumer consumption grows, businesses grow, and larger investments are made into community institutions, leading to a more prosperous state.

This graphic explains that 68 percent of jobs paying family-sustaining wages require education and training beyond high school. In 2019, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development determined that a sustainable living wage for a family consisting of two adults and one child, with one adult working full-time and the other part-time, amounts to an annual salary of $55,548. The graph displays the percentage and level of education and training those jobs that pay family-sustaining wage require. Twenty-eight percent of those jobs require a high school diploma; 3 percent require vocational training, which can include on-the-job-training, apprenticeships and certificates; 10 percent require an associate degree; 53 percent require a bachelor’s degree; and 6 percent require a graduate degree.
This graphic shows data that indicates Minnesota graduates with higher degrees earn more and have higher rates of full-time employment. Only 41 percent of graduates with a certificate or an Associate Degree were employed full-time. However, 49 percent of those with a Bachelor’s Degree and 54 percent of those with a Graduate Degree were employed full-time. The median wage of all employed graduates, part-time and full-time, in MN in their second year after graduation are as follows: Those with a certificate: $30,326; Those with an Associate Degree: $31,451; Those with a Bachelor’s Degree: $38,209; Those with a Graduate Degree: $58,980. The median wage of only the graduates employed full-time in MN in their second year after graduation are as follows: Those with a certificate: $41,559; Those with an Associate Degree: $44,629; Those with a Bachelor’s Degree: $48,551; Those with a Graduate Degree: $71,392.

Research and data suggest that educational attainment also plays a role in determining an individual’s earning power long after graduation.

Across all degree levels, data on the class of 2010’s hourly wages shows that their earning power grew significantly from the second to the eighth year after graduation. Hourly wages for graduates with a certificate rose 43.3 percent over that period, while the hourly earning power of individuals with a graduate degree increased by 35.4 percent.

The only way to reach our goal is to work together.

Leaders in education, industry, public service, government and other stakeholders champion the education and training goals by spreading the word to family members, business networks and the greater community. 

Additionally, the Forward Together Ambassadors Program trains and enables volunteers to play a key role in spreading the word about education and training opportunities for adults.

Forward Together Ambassadors are catalysts who open the door to a conversation with someone who may not have known how -or with whom- to talk about attending an education or training program and the resources available to them to earn their credentials.