Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by First Lady Jill Biden at the College Promise Careers Institute
Thank you, DJ. Wow. Your determination and your heart inspire us all. And thank you to my friend, and your incredible leader, Martha Kanter.
Just two days ago, alongside the Secretaries of Commerce, Labor, and Education, I visited a high school in a suburb of Chicago. We were there to talk about how the entire Biden Administration is coming together to invest in career-connected learning—programs that bridge the gap between what students learn and the jobs they will eventually find.
At Rolling Meadows High School, students showed us the amazing projects they are creating in their manufacturing and engineering classes—from robots that fight in cage matches to a high-mileage, energy efficient car. They were preparing for futures I could have never imagined when I was their age—with free college courses through their local community college.
I could see how excited the students were about learning. And the best part was that they all had a clear pathway to a good career.
Education has always been about jobs. You know that. You’ve seen the ripple effect that begins when one student falls in love with computers, because a high school gives her the chance to explore new fields; when she can go to a community college tuition free and learn skills that allow her to pursue her dream; when she’s connected with the local businesses that need her talents and she’s able to find work that gives her purpose and a paycheck.
And the ripple keeps going. Families with more income invest in local schools and shops. Companies can grow their operations. Towns and cities become better places to live.
We all benefit. That’s why every student deserves the opportunity to go to community college and build a great career.
College Promise was founded on that simple but transformative idea.
When I was Second Lady, as the Honorary Chair of the College Promise National Advisory Board, we launched College Promise programs across the country.
And since then, my husband, Joe, and I have been dedicated to this mission. He understands that a pipeline—from high school to affordable community colleges to great jobs—is the future of our workforce. This Administration has made historic investments in clean energy, manufacturing, and infrastructure—and now we need skilled people to fill those roles. When we bring the full power of the Biden-Harris administration together with non-profits, schools, employers, community colleges, and families, we can give students the opportunities they deserve—and strengthen our economy along the way.
That’s what College Promise is all about. And the results are incredible. When we started there were just 50 College Promise programs.
Today, there are nearly 400!
You’ve changed the lives of millions of students.
And Joe and I will never stop working to ensure that all Americans can access community colleges and the career pathways they deserve.
I have so much hope for what we can get done. Because this isn’t a red or blue issue. It’s an American issue. College Promise has worked with leaders from both sides of the aisle and across the country. We’ve seen successful programs in Republican states and Democratic cities and everything in between. This is one area where we can make real, bipartisan progress.
But we need your help.
So keep pushing for change. Keep making the case that free community colleges transform lives and make our nation stronger.
I’ll be with you every step of the way.
Community colleges are one of our greatest engines of prosperity. And if we want to build a stronger middle class, if we want businesses to have the skilled workers they need, if we want to prepare our economy for the future, there is no greater investment we can make than in education.