New Jersey has been awarded a $100,000 Lumina Foundation grant to help increase the percentage of its residents who hold college degrees or post-secondary credentials.

“Labor economists say 60 percent of all jobs will require some form of high-quality post-secondary credentials by the end of this decade,” Scott Jenkins, Lumina Foundation’s state policy director, said in a press statement. “States that recognize the need to increase the number of residents with education beyond high school will be ahead of their state counterparts.”

The Lumina Foundation launched its Attainment Challenge Grant (ACG) program in late 2016, committing to support states with funds for developing and implementing policies to improve student success, close equity gaps, and reach robust post-secondary attainment goals. Under this program, states must adopt a rigorous attainment goal and design an action plan in order to qualify for grants.

Each state sets its own goal and specific post-secondary attainment percentage. New Jersey’s ambitious goal is to have 65 percent of its residents achieve post-secondary attainment by the year 2025.

New Jersey’s post-secondary attainment rate was 50.2 percent in 2015, according to the Lumina Foundation.  Although that’s above the national rate of 45.8 percent, it is still short of New Jersey’s “65 by 25” goal.

NJ Higher Education Commissioner Rochelle Hendricks said the $100,000 grant will be used to help the state enhance data and demographic analysis; research evidence-based polices; and build collaborations with industry to increase the number of women and minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-related careers. The grant will also be used to increase attainment rates among under-represented and non-traditional populations, she said.

“By increasing the number of skilled people in our workforce, we will provide access to greater opportunity across our state,” Secretary Hendricks said in a press statement. “Our commitment to improving the quality of life for all our citizens means ensuring that far more of them hold post-secondary credentials.”

States whose post-secondary attainment action plans made them eligible for Lumina grants were: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Vermont.