Building Stark By Degrees Screenshot Canton, Ohio (March 11, 2010) - A new local initiative, Building Stark By Degrees, encourages young people and their parents to make plans for a college education. Building Stark By Degrees celebrates the success stories of educational achievement in Stark County. The initiative is centered around the website, which tells the stories of young people who have joined the ranks of college students, often through dual-credit classes while they are still in high school. It provides college planning and scholarship information to parents and students. It describes the community’s commitment to raising Stark County’s chances for economic prosperity through education. Though some families are naturally inclined toward college, others are not because they don’t think they can afford it or don’t know how to make a college plan. This latter group will find encouragement and advice at Building Stark By Degrees is a joint effort of the Stark Education Partnership and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, with support from the Ohio College Access Network. “We believe that a community prospers as its overall educational attainment level rises. We are working hard to encourage more people to go to college, and this initiative and website is one of the tools of encouragement,” said Dr. Adrienne O’Neill, president of the Stark Education Partnership. Did you know that Stark County now exceeds Ohio and the United States in the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds who have attended college? The percentages are 51.5 for Stark County, 50.7 for Ohio and 50.4 for the nation as a whole, according to recent U.S. Census estimates reported by the Stark Education Partnership. Turning statistics such as these into stories of real people and their accomplishments is a primary goal of Building Stark By Degrees. The website also is linked to a YouTube site,, that presents inspiring video clips, such as excerpts from the speech by education reformer Dr. Willard Daggett at last month’s Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner, or a conversation with members of the first graduating class from Early College at Timken High School in Canton. The initiative also maintains a Facebook Fan Page at If you don’t know the Early College story, thirty-two young people left high school in Canton last spring with their diplomas and two-year associate’s degrees that they had earned over the previous four years from Stark State College of Technology. Many of those students took their Stark State credits and used them as a foundation for a four-year degree at a major university. If you are a high school student and you think you should go to college, or if you are a parent and think your son or daughter should go, visit If you are a business or community leader who understands the link between education and economic opportunity, you will want to visit the website, too. Finally, if you are an educator and wonder whether the community appreciates the work you are doing to prepare young people for college, visit the website.