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Accelerating Opportunity Announced At Opportunity Nation Summit

September 19, 2012 09:55 AM
 

$18.5 million initiative supports states’ efforts to provide adults with the credentials they need

The American economy is facing a growing skills gap, with many adults lacking the training or education necessary for jobs that pay a middle-class wage. Helping adults earn the credentials and training they need to get and succeed in family-sustaining jobs is key to fueling the economy and boosting employment.

As part of an initiative to put Americans back to work, Jobs for the Future (JFF) announced that five states — Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and North Carolina — will each receive a $1.6 million grant to help more workers earn valuable credentials needed for today’s good jobs through innovative adult education programs. The grants, announced at the Opportunity Nation Summit in Washington, DC,  are part of Accelerating Opportunity: A Breaking Through Initiative, an $18.5 million Joyce-supported collaboration with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and the University of Phoenix Foundation.

Read: Joyce Foundation Accelerating Opportunity Grantee Study

Accelerating Opportunity targets workers who are underprepared for today’s demanding job market. Over 26 million adults lack a high school diploma. While just over 2.5 million of these individuals are enrolled in adult basic education programs, many of them leave after only a semester or two, not earning any form of postsecondary credential. Accelerating Opportunity will substantially increase the number of adults who can earn a GED and a credential and enter the workplace with competitive skills by creating effective pathways to credentials and careers.

 

Watch: More Accelerating Opportunity Testimonials

“Many employers are currently unable to fill well-paying jobs because applicants lack the skills,” says JFF President and CEO Marlene B. Seltzer. “Today’s good jobs require education beyond high school and training that prepares workers with practical skills that employers need. Accelerating Opportunity focuses on educational programs that lead to the credentials workers need to secure a family-sustaining job and long-lasting career opportunities.  We are off to a great start with over 1,000 credentials already issued by our grantee states.”

The goals of Accelerating Opportunity, which will run through 2014, are:

  • At least forty colleges across five states will be implementing Accelerating Opportunity pathways in multiple professional/technical areas.
  • At least 40,000 students will be progressing through pathways to marketable, stackable, credit-bearing credentials.
  • At least 18,000 students will have in hand at least one marketable, stackable credit-bearing credential and at least one term’s worth of credit; they will also be ready to enter additional college-level programs without enrolling in developmental education.
  • States policies and financing models will sustain effective Accelerating Opportunity programs and expand them to assist many more adult learners in obtaining postsecondary credentials.
  • States will have engaged community colleges in a learning network to facilitate the adoption and scale-up of Accelerating Opportunity pathways.

Accelerating Opportunity will increase credential attainment using evidence-based instructional and organizational models, building on the successes of Breaking Through, as well as Washington State’s experience implementing and scaling up Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST). The initiative includes a robust independent evaluation program, led by the Urban Institute, which will ensure that Accelerating Opportunity is able to document best practices and encourage growth through the addition of other state community college systems.

Each of the five states is led by a team that represents a unique collaboration between higher education agencies, the governor’s office, state workforce development agencies, state data agencies, leading community colleges, and employers or employer associations in industry sectors with strong labor demand and career advancement potential. By addressing policy-based, systemic, and programmatic barriers to student success, Accelerating Opportunity will enable many more adults to succeed in their quest for postsecondary credentials.

Read the national press release.

Press Coverage
Huffington Post: Enterprising Pathways to the Middle Class, September 19
Community College Times: Funding focused on helping adults acquire skills for jobs, September 20
 


 

 

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