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Competitive Advantage

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Lumina Foundation Recognizes C2C’s Success, Selects for National Competition Update



Update: Thank you for participating! C2C was chosen as the winner of the Beautiful Minds competition. Read more here »

Watch the video here:

Mississippi’s Complete 2 Compete (C2C) has been selected by the Lumina Foundation to be featured in the Beautiful Minds video series and is competing for a $50,000 prize.

Complete 2 Compete (C2C) is a statewide program in Mississippi that helps thousands of former students each year to return to college and complete their degrees.

C2C is honored to be chosen as one of only three programs for the Lumina Foundation’s 2022 Beautiful Minds competition. The Lumina Foundation recognizes C2C’s success in helping Mississippi adults to return to college and finish degrees.

For the past 5 years, C2C has been proactively reaching out to adults in Mississippi who have some college credits but no degree. The program offers many resources for students who want to return to college, including grant opportunities, coaches who handle many of the logistics of returning to college, and degree options which can help adults finish their degrees more efficiently. Thanks to C2C, thousands of adults in Mississippi have graduated from college.

Other education programs in Kentucky and Pennsylvania are also featured in the Beautiful Minds video contest. Each organization is sharing their video and requesting that people “Thumbs Up (like)” their video to increase awareness for the program and to vote for their contest entry.

Spotlighting Education That Makes an Impact

The Beautiful Minds competition is a partnership between the Lumina Foundation and Freethink. The Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based independent foundation, exists to discover and support adult learning opportunities, including those outside the traditional education system.

It is “committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials.” As shared on every page of their website, the Lumina Foundation’s goal is “to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.”

According to their most recent plan (OR 2020 plan), they “will concentrate on ensuring that adults, especially people of color, have access to programs that lead to meaningful credentials, that they have financial and non-financial support along the way to ensure their success, and that the credentials they earn lead to good jobs, higher pay, and greater opportunity to learn and serve others.”

The Lumina Foundation designed the Beautiful Minds competition to identify and spotlight a few of the organizations that further their plan of “helping the nation redesign learning after high school.”

After reviewing several other options, the team at the Lumina Foundation selected three organizations to be featured in the Beautiful Minds competition. All three programs (in Mississippi, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania) proactively work to help adults in their states gain training and credentials so they can improve their communities.

Lumina partnered with Freethink, an online news platform, to produce and distribute videos about each organization. The three videos are published on YouTube, and viewers are encouraged to “Thumbs Up (like)” a video. The contest runs through May 31, 2022 and the video with the best ratio of likes to dislikes will win $50,000 for their initiative.

“We are so excited that C2C has been recognized in this national contest,” says Amber Palmer, Project Coordinator at Complete 2 Compete. “C2C is helping thousands of adults in Mississippi complete their degree. They are building better lives for themselves and their families. We are grateful and proud to receive this recognition standing out as an example for other states.”

She encourages everyone in Mississippi to visit the video link and click the “Thumbs Up” (like) button to vote. Amber says “We are excited at this opportunity for more people to learn about the program, and of course win the $50,000 so we can help more students.”

Complete 2 Compete will reinvest all prize money back into the program to help adults in Mississippi return to college and finish their degrees.

C2C’s Impact

Understandably, C2C is proud to be recognized in the national contest! However, they are most excited about the THOUSANDS of lives that have already been impacted by the C2C program.

Here are a few stats about the C2C program:

  • It was started in 2017, so it has a 5-year history of impact!
  • All 24 of Mississippi’s public universities, community colleges, and including its medical center participate in the program.
  • 2670+ students have already been awarded degrees with the help of C2C.
  • 1140+ students are currently enrolled and working towards degrees.
  • Over $323,000 has been paid toward past debts to participating colleges.
  • Over $3.4 million has been paid toward tuition.

Creating Brighter Futures

The contest video tells the story of Krystal Austin, just one of thousands of adults in MS who were able to complete a degree with the help of the C2C program. Krystal says that she “had a bit of a rocky start in my education journey.” She hadn’t quite finished her bachelor’s degree when she had kids and got sick, unable to graduate even though she lacked only 2 classes to complete her degree.

Once she discovered C2C, she got the motivation and resources she needed to return to college and graduate with her bachelor’s degree. Now, she runs her own business in Jackson, MS. She links her entrepreneurship to her education: “Without my degree, I would not have opened a business.”

Krystal was one of the approximately 36 million Americans who have college credits but no degree. These people left college for whatever reason, and never returned to gain a credential that would actually help them advance in their careers and communities.

The C2C coaches are essential to helping adults get back into college and save time and money. Shaquita Hopson-Alfonso, one of the C2C coaches, says, “I love the determination these non-traditional students have. I’m committed to having the same determination to helping them.”

She details the challenges these adult students face as they return to school: “If someone has to talk to multiple people, and jump through too many hoops, it gets really frustrating. My job is to do as much of that stuff for them as possible. That’s one of the great things about the C2C program.”

Sometimes she gets to tell students that they already have enough credits for a degree, or that they only need a few classes to finish. “When I told a particular student that we made it happen, it was like I had told her she’d won a million dollars!” smiles Hopson. Graduating with a degree is a key that unlocks new doors for Mississippi students. Thanks to the innovative program, the grant funders, and the C2C coaches, thousands of adults are now on their way to achieving their dreams and making an even greater difference in their communities.

Help MORE Adults Graduate

C2C helps MS adults return to college so they can GRADUATE. You can help C2C win the Beautiful Minds contest so they can help even more people! Watch the video and click the “Thumbs Up (like)” button on YouTube.

Finish What You Started

Do you know an adult who has college credits but no degree? Anyone who is interested in pursuing a degree from one of the 24 public Mississippi institutions can complete a quick survey to find out how C2C could help them complete a degree.

Update: Thank you for participating! C2C was chosen as the winner of the Beautiful Minds competition. Read more here »


C2C is a state program that helps Mississippi adults who previously attended college earn a degree and create a brighter future.