Thank you for your leadership with the association of community college trustees. Good morning, you know, Noah and Walter, this was one of my first events back in 2009 as second lady. And I’m so happy to begin another administration with you, now as first lady, and of course, a community college professor myself.
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to virtually visit Erie, Pennsylvania where they're going to build a brand new community college. And the town is so excited for the opportunities it's going to create. The chance for a great education at a school in their own backyard; one that will be flexible enough for those working and raising families. Most of all, it's going to mean good paying jobs in an area that's struggled over the last years. And that's what community colleges are all about – a better future for everyone. It's a story that I’ve seen again and again; in fact, it's the story we wrote together. When I visited community college across the country on our bus tour, you helped us lift up the experiences of students who had been left behind. You helped us show the successful programs that brought jobs to towns that had been hurt by the recession. You helped us launch college programs, making sure that hard-working students could go to college debt free. And we hosted a summit, to show the world our strength. When we started the Obama-Biden administration, as you remember, we were facing an historic recession, and the best and brightest economists got together to figure out how to jump start our economy. One of their answers? Community colleges.
Community colleges have always been about jobs. They've always been innovative institutions that meet students where they are, giving them the opportunity to grow their careers and support their families. They've always met the needs of the people they serve; strengthening businesses and workforces. And in this pandemic you've supported your students with urgency, creativity, and compassion.
Your students and their families are carrying the brunt of the crisis, and that's why the Biden-Harris administration is going to get this virus under control, and ensure support to those who are struggling. And as we rebuild our economy, we need community colleges more than ever. This is personal, to the president and me. We understand the power, of your schools. We know that supporting students and your institutions is urgent. It's necessary for the families who are struggling to get by; the towns that are losing hope; and the future of our entire economy. We have to get this done – and we have to do it now. That's why we're going to make sure that everyone has access to free community college and training programs. We're going to make sure students have the support they need, to cross that finish line. And we're going to invest in programs that prepare our workers for jobs of the future.
But we need your help, we need your experience. Tell us what your students need to thrive. We need your ideas – tell us what's working. But just as importantly, tell us what's not working. Show us your innovative approaches and help us spread your success to other institutions. We will do this together. We are the builders, the doers, the dreamers, who will create the future we need. When we hosted the first community college summit at the White House in the Obama-Biden administration, I told our audience that community colleges were America’s best kept secret. Well, in places just like Erie and towns across America, the secret's out now. And it's time for us to pick up the bullhorn and take the lead. Community colleges are no longer our best kept secret – they are our most powerful engine of prosperity. And at our next white house summit, I can't wait to lift up the work that you are doing, every day, to make sure that that engine can transform lives and our nation's economy. A better, brighter, more equitable future is ours for the taking. I promise you that with your partnership and help, the president and I will do everything we can to make that future real.
Biden, J. [The Hill]. (2021, February 9). FLOTUS: "We're going to make sure that everyone has access to free community college" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-8BExNSmJc] Retrieved on April 11, 2022 from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD3yLNvhVGehgJn3Fvfinaw .