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June 18, 2013

Community Colleges are taking a central role in President Obama’s Jobs Plan as he mentions that these educational institutions are an important tool for training America’s workforce and creating jobs. The Obama Plan calls for $5B in funds to modernize, renovate or repair facilities. The money would be distributed to the states according to the number of students enrolled in community colleges, and would be limited to facilities repair and upgrades.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, more than 1.4M additional Americans have enrolled in the past 3 years, bringing the total for fall 2011 to 8.2M.

It is estimated that if the president’s plan is passed, 1.9 million jobs will be created over the next two years.

Community college advocates are lobbying hard to ensure their portion of the jobs plan stays intact as it travels through Congress. Go to http://go.aft.org/JobsActand tell members of Congress that your community needs the new jobs plan.

The Community College and Career Training Initiative

On March 30, 2010, President Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which provided $2 billion over four years to fund the Community College and Career Training initiative. The Department of Labor, in close cooperation with the Department of Education, will soon open the competition and award approximately $500 million to community colleges over the coming year to help increase completion of degrees, certificates, and other industry-recognized credentials.

This program is designed to meet industry needs while also accelerating learning, and improving retention and achievement rates. With these resources, eligible institutions of higher education will be able to improve their capacity to provide quality education and training services to individuals to improve their knowledge and skills, enabling them to obtain high-quality employment to support their families.

This investment targets evidence-based projects that that will build career pathways with businesses, advance the teaching of basic skills, and support the creation of a new online, open-source clearinghouse of courses.

Gates Foundation: Completion by Design

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will announce Completion by Design, which aims to dramatically improve community college graduation rates by building on proven, existing practices to implement model pathways making the college experience more responsive to today’s student’s needs and education goals. The competitive grant program is a $35 million investment over five years to 3-5 multi-campus groups of community colleges in nine states serving the largest populations of low-income students (Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington). Completion by Design supports tough-minded campus- or college-based analysis to learn where along the education journey students are being lost and to design an intentional educational pathway that employs proven and promising practices at every critical moment from enrollment to credential completion.

Skills for America’s Future

On October 4, President Obama announced the launch of Skills for America’s Future, a new initiative to expand innovative strategies and improve the skills of America’s workers. Skills for America’s Future will build high-impact partnerships with industry, labor unions, community colleges and other training providers in all 50 states, all in support of the President’s goal of 5 million more community college graduates and certificates by 2020. Follow this initiative at http://www.whitehouse.gov.

Participate in the conversation on community colleges and share ideas, suggestions, and stories at communitycollegecorner@ed.gov.

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