"When organizations are working together, they are more powerful than organizations working by themselves," says Tony Cipollone, president and CEO of the Gorman Foundation. Working in partnership will empower "groups to not work in a silo fashion and not compete for scarce resources." Cipollone is particularly eager to employ hard data — such as socioeconomic and demographic stats — to better inform the partnership's work. Both Cipollone and Brennan are also excited by the chance to connect with the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which can provide technical and networking assistance in the form of shared best-practices and help tracking outcomes.

Ultimately, the mayor — who campaigned in part on an education platform — sees Portland ConnectED as the first major thrust toward his final aim: "I want Portland to be seen as a city of education." Stay tuned for a second salvo later this spring, when Brennan announces an initiative geared more toward post-secondary academic and research advancement in the Forest City.

• In other education news, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (created by the 2010 post-recession Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) announced last week that it is beginning to gather information from relevant parties (private loan servicers, colleges and universities, financial institutions, and more) regarding STUDENT LOAN AFFORDABILITY. Student loan debt now surpasses credit card and auto loan debts — which in turn influences whether young people can purchase their first homes, where graduates choose to live, and what career paths students pursue in the first place.

In particular, the CFPB is interested in helping people who have PRIVATE STUDENT LOANS — those who owe money to Sallie Mae or a private bank as opposed making payments on a federally guaranteed Stafford or Federal PLUS loan. While federal loan programs offer (underutilized) programs such as income-based repayment, private loan borrowers often face less-flexible terms. According to a press release, "the Bureau is looking for ways that private student loan borrowers can have more flexible repayment options," including ways to lower monthly payments and implement rehabilitation options for those who default.

Learn more at  consumerfinance.gov.

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