For millions of Americans, a post-secondary degree is only a handful of credits away from attainment. And as years pass, finding the time, money and resources to finish can become increasingly challenging.

A new initiative is now concentrating on helping these Tampa Bay area adults.

Complete Tampa Bay was launched recently as a way to directly assist those with prior college or technical training experiences by providing free, personalized coaching and support to help complete degrees or credentialing programs. The program was created by LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network, which consists of more than 50 community partners working to connect residents to education and training beyond high school.

“This hands-on approach to college and training enrollment will help streamline the frequently overwhelming process experienced by returning adult learners,” said Chuck Tiernan, director of LEAP Tampa Bay, in a press release. “We’re thrilled to help this population not only re-enroll, but successfully move through the process to credential completion.”

According to a 2017 American Community Survey, an estimated 330,000 adults in the Tampa Bay area have earned some college credits but never completed their degrees or credentialing program. The creation of Complete Tampa Bay further aids LEAP Tampa Bay in reaching a goal shared by the state and the nation. Florida’s Sail to 60 goal and the national GOAL 2025 movement both seek to have 60% of working-age adults acquire post-secondary degrees or credentials.

Complete Tampa Bay intends to pay particular attention to creating opportunities and removing barriers for the region’s black, Hispanic and low-income populations.

By creating personalized coaching models, the initiative aims to tailor return-to-learning plans for each individual. This includes identifying available education and training options and what financial support may be available, learning how to access tutoring, and connecting individuals with local education partners. Currently, Complete Tampa Bay’s local education partners include the University of South Florida, Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg College, Hillsborough Technical Colleges and Pinellas Technical College.

To learn more about the Complete Tampa Bay initiative or contact a completion coach, go to www.completeTB.org.