By Paul Bradley
The first round of what eventually will be $2 billion in grants to expand capacity and job-training at community colleges were announced today by federal labor and educations officials.
The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training Initiative will distribute $500 million in grants to 49 community colleges and community college consortia to provide training in high-growth fields such as health care, the environment, transportation and advanced manufacturing.
“This initiative will connect community colleges and businesses that are ready to hire but need a better-trained workforce,” said Undersecretary of Education Martha Kanter. Funding comes $2 billion included in the health care legislation approved by Congress last.
Said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis: “The purpose here is to make sure community colleges are working with a segment of the business sector where workers are needed.”
The initiative is a critical part of President Obama’s education agenda and grew out of the White House Community College Summit last year. Obama wants to ensure that by 2020 the United States has the highest proportion of college graduates in the world, and believes that every American should have at least one year of post-secondary education.
“We can’t realize this vision without community colleges, which is why this initiative is so important,” Kanter said.
Every state will receive at least $2.7 million for community college career training programs through this initiative, with grants as high as nearly $25 million, officials said. States without a winning submission named in this round are being contacted by the program’s administrators to develop a qualifying initiative that will immediately receive $2.7 million.
Funds can be used to hire faculty and develop curriculum. The program is intended to have a lasting impact on higher education, emphasizing the use of evidence in program design, collection of student outcome data and conducting evaluations to identify which strategies are most effective in placing graduates in jobs.
The complete list of grant winners is available at: http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/eta/eta20111409fs.htm.