President Obama to Announce a New ‘College Promise’ Campaign

The movements for free community college and other tuition- and debt-free college programs will get a renewed push on Wednesday when President Obama returns to Macomb Community College, in Michigan — along with Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and a longtime community-college professor — to announce a wide-ranging new effort called the College Promise campaign.

Notably, with many observers now questioning whether Mr. Obama has the political support to get his own free-community-college proposal enacted before he leaves office, the new campaign will promote not only the administration’s America’s College Promise but also a variety of state and local efforts.

While details of the campaign will be made public later on Wednesday, parties familiar with it said it would include activities to encourage grass-roots organizing of students through an organization called Heads Up America.  An advertising agency working with Heads Up America will produce public-service announcements featuring students, community-college alumni, and celebrities.

The College Promise campaign will be chaired by Ms. Biden, with Jim Geringer, a former Republican governor of Wyoming, as co-chair. Martha J. Kanter, a former top Education Department official in the Obama administration and a former community-college president, will direct the campaign. The campaign will also have a National Advisory Board that will include the president of the Association of Community College Trustees, J. Noah Brown, and the president of the American Association of Community Colleges, Walter G. Bumphus.

Mr. Obama will also announce $175 million in new “American Apprenticeship Grants,” including some to colleges, to help train and hire more than 34,000 new apprentices over the next five years in high-growth and high-tech industries, as well as in the construction, transportation, and energy industries.

President Obama previously visited Macomb in 2009 and used the occasion to argue for focusing much more attention — and money — on community colleges in federal education policies.

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