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PCC is leading state project that gets low-income people the job training they need

This was originally posted in Portland Community College's blog


A growing group of institutions led by Portland Community College is helping Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients build a pathway to living-wage jobs.

PCC, Chemeketa, Klamath, Lane, Linn-Benton and Mt. Hood community colleges have established Oregon Community College SNAP 50/50 Consortia. It is a $2.4 million budgeted reimbursement, third-party match program, administered federally by Food and Nutrition Services and statewide by the Oregon Department of Human Services. The colleges are reimbursed for 50 percent of their expenses related to the project while the other half comes from existing college resources, like state, local grant or foundation funding.

“Based on a study, this strategy had a huge return of investment, not just in terms of the federal match generated to support Oregonians, but also in terms of getting people out of poverty so that they don’t need SNAP or other public assistance,” said Kate Kinder, Career Pathways and Skills Training director. “In times of tight budgets, this is a strategic way to maximize funding while still prioritizing student success, access, and equity.”

Opportunities to Advance

The goal of the project is to increase employment and training opportunities for individuals and families who are receiving SNAP, which offers food benefits to eligible, low-income individuals and families. Through the SNAP 50/50 Consortia, colleges will offer extra support and resources that can help students complete their GED, increase their English skills, earn a college credential, do an internship, and/or find a job that leads to a living-wage career.

From left to right, Maritime Welding Career Pathway students Jalie Sturgeon, Tyson Brown and Kiamana LoBue.

“In collaboration with DHS, the colleges came together to increase the resources for those who are food insecure, and often needing to juggle work, family, and school in order to increase their economic situation,” added Kinder. “I think it can be a really impactful program.”

The statewide project, which will serve 484 individuals in the first year, is using the community colleges’ nationally recognized Career Pathways framework and a skills-based approach to support SNAP recipients as they access education and training, and transition into employment. The colleges’ Career Pathways support students to advance in their education and career, and offer three- to nine-month stackable certificates that lead to a job and a degree. The Community College Consortia will collaborate and align with other 50/50 providers and workforce programs, like Central City Concern, New Avenues for Youth, Outside In, and Worksystems, Inc.’s Career Boost initiative in the Portland Metro area.

“The project is starting out slowly and colleges are being strategic and mindful with enrollment to ensure capacity, quality, and outcomes,” Kinder said. “The hope is to eventually have all 17 community colleges on board and part of the consortia.”

As an example of the 50/50 Consortia, students are getting extra coaching support in the Maritime Welding Career Pathway at PCC’s welding lab on Swan Island and in the Vigor Industrial’s shipyard. Thanks to a partnership between Vigor, PCC, and Worksystems Inc., students were able to receive WorkSource scholarships to pay for tuition, books, tools and equipment. Students can earn stackable credits, certificates, and industry recognized credentials that create an avenue to either employment with the likes of Vigor Industrial or into the college’s Welding Technology associate degree.

Modeled on Proven Program

Oregon DHS is on the cutting edge, and a national leader in how they are expanding SNAP 50/50 programming to align workforce systems and state resources, community based organizations, and community colleges. The Community College consortia was also fortunate to receive technical assistance from National Skills Coalition and the Seattle Jobs Initiative, to learn from Washington State’s successful SNAP 50/50 initiative called the Basic Food Employment and Training Program (BFET). In less than ten years, BFET grew from a project of one community college and four community-based organizations with a budget of $1.41 million to encompass 34 community colleges and professional technical colleges, 29 community-based organizations and a budget of $36.6 million.

“With DHS’s leadership and vision, and our experience learning from Washington community colleges and their data-driven model, we are positioned to create effective anti-poverty programs that can have a big impact in communities across the state,” Kinder said.

For more information, contact Kate Kinder at either skinder@pcc.edu, or (971) 722-6271.


Photos and Story by 

Posted In: SNAP Employment and Training, Oregon
Trump FY 2018 Budget Slashes Funding for Key Workforce, Education, Human Services Programs

This morning, the Trump Administration released the President’s detailed budget proposals for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, calling for dramatic cuts to a range of federal programs, including steep reductions in funding for key workforce, education, and human services programs. While the proposed cuts were not unexpected – the Administration had released a so-called “skinny” budget in March that highlighted topline cuts to many agency budgets – the budget documents released today provide more specific information about the Administration’s policy priorities.

Though Congress is not expected to adopt all of the President’s proposals, the budget sets an unfortunate baseline for policymakers as they begin the FY 2018 budget and appropriations process. The budget includes a range of recommendations for reducing federal support for means-tested public assistance programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which could be included to offset tax cuts as part of a budget reconciliation package later this year. Appropriators will also be under pressure to provide some cuts to discretionary programs, including training services authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act, despite the strong bipartisan support for these critical programs.

Department of Labor. Overall, the President’s budget calls for $9.6 billion in funding for DOL, a cut of $2.5 billion (21 percent) relative to the levels under the FY 2017 omnibus. The budget calls for significant reductions in funding for key workforce programs under WIOA, which was reauthorized by Congress in 2014. The budget calls for cuts of approximately $1 billion from the three state formula grants under Title I of WIOA, cutting WIOA Adult from $816 million to $490 million, Dislocated Worker state grants from just over $1 billion to $615 million, and reducing youth grants from $873 million to $416 million. Overall, the formula grant cuts represent about a 40 percent reduction from current funding levels, which would have devastating impacts on states and local communities seeking to address the skill needs of businesses and jobseekers.

The budget also proposes eliminating several national programs administered by DOL, including the Workforce Data Quality initiative that provides states with funding to strengthen data systems; the migrant and seasonal farmworker grant program; and the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Dislocated Worker National Reserve grants are reduced by a little more than $100 million, and the budget proposes more modest reductions to a range of other national programs, including cuts of about $5 million for apprenticeship grants and $10 million for ex-offender grants. Wagner-Peyser Employment Services (ES) state grants under WIOA Title III would be cut by about $256 million, nearly 40 percent below current levels.

The budget proposes providing local workforce boards the ability to transfer up to 100 percent of funds allocated for adult programs to youth activities and 100 percent of funds allocated for youth activities to adult activities. It also would provide the Secretary of Labor the authority to waive administrative and reporting requirements, with the justification of improving efficiency and reducing administrative costs to local areas.

Department of Education. The Department of Education would be funded at $59 billion under the President’s budget, a cut of $9 billion (13 percent) relative to FY 2017 levels. The proposal would make significant cuts to a number of key programs that help low-income and other individuals obtain the skills necessary to compete in today’s workforce, including cuts of roughly $168 million for career and technical education state grants under the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act – a reduction of 15 percent against current funding; $96 million in cuts (or about 16 percent) to adult education state grants under WIOA Title II; and more than $500 million in cuts to the federal work-study program that can provide income support and work experience for lower-income college students. The budget proposes eliminating the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), which provides about $730 million in additional assistance to students with significant financial needs. 

The budget does include funding for the Pell Grant program, which provides financial aid to lower-income students, including funding to support “year-round Pell” awards that allow individuals to receive more than one grant in an academic year. Congress had restored year-round Pell in the FY 2017 omnibus appropriations package that was completed earlier this month. The budget would provide sufficient funding to support the maximum grant award at $5,920, but would rescind $3.9 billion in prior year funding, which may impact the financial stability of the program in future years.

Department of Agriculture. One of the most sweeping changes under the FY 2018 budget is the proposal to change programmatic requirements around SNAP, which provides vital food assistance to more than 40 million Americans. The budget calls for reducing overall spending on SNAP and other federal nutrition programs by $194 billion over ten years – a cut of about 25 percent – by, among other things, limiting the current waiver for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) to counties with unemployment exceeding ten percent, and other changes to restrict eligibility; eliminating the minimum SNAP benefit; and phasing in a state matching requirement over ten years, with states ultimately expected to provide a 25 percent match. The budget does not appear to propose changes to the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program, which some states use to connect participants with skills-based training programs at community colleges and community-based organizations. SNAP helps millions of people feed put food on their table while they’re in between jobs or trying to move up within their career. Without access to food assistance, it will be harder for unemployed people and low-wage workers to participate in training that leads to a family-supporting job. However, the proposed changes to eligibility will likely reduce access to needed benefits, as states are pressured to find work activities for more recipients with fewer resources.

Department of Health and Human Services. The budget proposes significant cuts to HHS programs that can help support employment and training while providing critical assistance to sustain engagement in work.

The budget would cut current funding levels for the TANF program by a combined $2.2 billion, reducing the federal block grant from $16.7 billion to $15.1 billion and eliminating the $608 million TANF Contingency Fund that is intended to assist states facing economic downturns. If enacted, the proposed cuts would reduce overall federal support for TANF by a combined $21.7 billion over the next decade. Given that the overall block grant has not been increased since TANF was passed in 1996, the proposed cuts would mean that its inflation-adjusted purchasing power would be more than 40 percent below original funding levels.

The budget also calls for elimination of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and related community services programs, a total of $769 million in cuts. Many states and local areas use CSBG funds to support training and related activities that help residents of low-income communities connect to employment.

National Skills Coalition strongly opposes the unnecessary and drastic cuts in the President’s budget proposal. At a time when millions of U.S. workers are seeking the skills and credentials to get and keep family-supporting jobs – and when U.S. businesses are struggling to find qualified individuals to keep up with demand – such significant reductions in federal workforce, education, and human services programs will make our nation less competitive in the global economy. NSC calls on Congress to reject the President’s proposals and to ensure that we continue our bipartisan commitment to investments in skills.   


FY 2018 – Authorized Levels

FY 2017 Omnibus

FY 2018 President’s Budget

Change FY 2017-2018

Department of Labor

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants[1]





WIOA Adult





WIOA Dislocated Worker[2]





WIOA Youth





Wagner-Peyser/Employment Service Grants






Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants





Apprenticeship Grants





DW National Reserve





Native American Programs





Ex-Offender Activities





Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers





Youth Build





Senior Community Service Employment Program


$433, 535,000


-$433, 535,000

Department of Education

Career and Technical Education State Grants





Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants





Federal Work Study






Posted In: Federal Funding, Career and Technical Education, SNAP Employment and Training, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

NSC submits comments on SNAP E&T reporting requirements

  ·   By Brooke DeRenzis
NSC submits comments on SNAP E&T reporting requirements

Today, NSC submitted comments on the Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) interim rule on reporting measures for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T). As the Workforce Data Quality Campaign explains, SNAP E&T would report nationwide data on participant outcomes for the first time under the new rule.

The SNAP E&T metrics described in the interim rule closely align with the Workforce and Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) metrics on employment and earnings. In addition to requiring information on participant outcomes, the interim rule also requires states to report information on participant characteristics, including gender, age, high school diploma attainment, speaking English as a second language, voluntary or mandatory participation in SNAP E&T, and whether or not the participant is an able-bodied adult without dependents (ABAWD). 

Overall, NSC supports FNS’s effort to provide better information on who is being served by SNAP E&T and their outcomes. Our comments make recommendations for improving the reporting measures so that they are consistent with WIOA measures, provide a fuller picture of who is receiving E&T services, and show the labor market outcomes associated with different E&T activities.

You can read NSC’s comments here.

Posted In: SNAP Employment and Training
NSC Releases Recommendations on Building Skills through SNAP E&T

After a year-long collaboration working to help four states expand their SNAP E&T programs, NSC and Seattle Jobs Initiative have released a policy brief with best practices for states. The policy brief, “Building Skills through SNAP Employment and Training: Recommendations from Lessons Learned in Four States” offers recommendations to states based on our work with Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, and Oregon.

Specifically, the brief makes the following recommendations for states looking to expand skills-based SNAP E&T programs:

  • Staff and stakeholders should work with SNAP E&T agency leadership to develop a vision for a skills-focused program and implement a strategy to achieve that vision.
  • States should use pilot programs to test and refine strategies for expanding SNAP E&T programs.
  • SNAP E&T programs should build on the strengths and experience of existing workforce development efforts, and should align SNAP E&T with other programs, such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
  • SNAP E&T programs should use federal funding and administrative tools to partner with community colleges and community-based organizations as service providers.

The brief also identifies a set of common challenges in developing skills-based SNAP E&T programs and makes recommendations for how state SNAP E&T agencies can address them.

Click here to read the brief.

These recommendations are especially timely because states now have an opportunity to align SNAP E&T with WIOA implementation. Last week, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Labor urged State Workforce Administrators, Workforce Development Boards, and American Jobs Centers to do exactly that. (For more on aligning SNAP E&T with WIOA implementation read last week's blog)

This project was made possible through the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Posted In: SNAP Employment and Training, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Oregon

Rule creates national SNAP E&T metrics

  ·   By Rachel Zinn
Rule creates national SNAP E&T metrics

A major workforce program for low-income people will report nationwide data on participant outcomes for the first time, under a federal regulation published today.

The regulation establishes performance measures for the employment and training (E&T) part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. SNAP E&T is designed to help participants move into self-sufficiency.

A Workforce Data Quality Campaign (WDQC) report from last year analyzed SNAP E&T data challenges, including the lack of nationwide outcome measurement. 

Right now, 36 states track outcome measure for SNAP E&T, but they “use a variety of reporting measures, and the outcome data reported cannot be compared or summarized on a national level,” according to the regulation.

The rule, developed by the Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), establishes four national metrics that all states must report for SNAP E&T participants:

  • Number and percentage in unsubsidized employment in second quarter after completion
  • Number and percentage in unsubsidized employment in fourth quarter after completion
  • Median earnings for those in unsubsidized employment in second quarter after completion
  • Number and percentage that completed a training, educational, work experience, or on-the-job training component

The SNAP E&T metrics closely align with the core measures in the Workforce and Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA), the law that governs several large workforce programs administered by the Departments of Labor and Education. FNS consulted with the Department of Labor as it created the new metrics. The employment and earnings metrics are essentially the same as WIOA, but WIOA measures credential attainment rather than training completion, and includes measures of employer effectiveness and skill gains which are absent from the SNAP E&T metrics.

In addition to requiring all states to report outcome metrics, the regulation mandates reporting on the number and percentage of SNAP E&T participants with six characteristics, including sex, age, high school diploma attainment, and speaking English as a second language.

The rule notes: “State agencies currently collect most of this information as part of the application and it should be available through their eligibility systems or SNAP E&T tracking systems.”

The regulation also requires states to identify appropriate outcome metrics, in addition to the four national metrics, that will be reported for each SNAP E&T service category that has at least 100 participants. These service categories, called components, include job search, work experience, and education.

States will face some challenges implementing new reporting requirements, including up-front costs to build reporting systems and establishing processes to track participant outcomes.

Like other workforce development programs, SNAP E&T could use participant data linked with their state’s Unemployment Insurance wage records to calculate employment and earnings. However, few states have these linkages established, and creating them requires data sharing agreements and state agency capacity to conduct data matching.

WDQC’s report explains model data practices from states like Washington and Texas, which have integrated SNAP E&T reporting with other workforce programs.

FNS is accepting comments on the interim rule over the next 60 days through their website or by email at SNAP-Ed@fns.usda.gov.


This blog was originally posted on the Workforce Data Quality Campaign blog

Posted In: SNAP Employment and Training, Workforce Data Quality Campaign
10 states to participate in “SNAP to Skills” technical assistance project

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that 10 states have been selected to receive in-depth technical assistance as part of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture “SNAP to Skills” project. The selected states include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The effort, led by the Seattle Jobs Initiative, will help these states design job-driven Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T). States will participate in the project through September 2017. 

Over the past several years, National Skills Coalition has partnered with Seattle Jobs Initiative to promote skills-based SNAP E&T programs in the states. By combining education, training, and support services, SNAP E&T programs can expand opportunities for low-income people to move into family-supporting jobs.

With support from partners like the Annie E. Casey and W.K. Kellogg foundations, NSC has worked with SJI to share best practices and recommendations based on Washington State’s skills-based SNAP E&T programs. Together, we’ve produced numerous publications and webinars, hosted a meeting for 11 states interested in skills-based SNAP E&T, and provided technical assistance to four states looking to expand SNAP E&T partnerships with community colleges and community-based organizations. We’re now working together to identify opportunities for aligning SNAP E&T with broader state workforce development efforts under the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

The SNAP to Skills Project is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s effort to help SNAP E&T programs become more job-driven. In December 2015, the agency’s Undersecretary for Food Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon issued an official communication to state SNAP agencies promoting practices that help participants build the skills required by today’s job market.

NSC will continue to provide resources to partners in the field on how SNAP E&T programs can expand opportunities for low-income people to enhance their skills, credentials, careers, and ultimately, their families’ financial well-being. 

Posted In: SNAP Employment and Training, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee

Our biggest, most impactful Skills Summit yet!

  ·   By Nicky Lauricella Coolberth
Our biggest, most impactful Skills Summit yet!

From February 7-9, more than 270 workforce advocates, employers, and community college leaders from 29 states traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in NSC’s annual Skills Summit.

The purpose of the Skills Summit is for participants to bring their expertise on education, training, and skills to Capitol Hill; and to advocate for policies that ensure every worker and every industry has the skills to compete and prosper. They did just that.

An Expanded Network

The 2016 Skills Summit saw the greatest number and diversity of organizations participating thanks to eight national networks that signed on as Skills Summit National Partners: Business Leaders UnitedCommission on Adult Basic EducationNational Youth Employment CoalitionNational Council of La RazaNational Council for Workforce EducationWorkforce Data Quality CampaignNational Fund for Workforce Solutions and Young Invincibles.

Action Oriented Learning to Advance a New Agenda

Summit attendees, including those from our National Partner networks, spent two days in plenary and concurrent sessions learning about the latest policy developments and opportunities across adult education, career and technical education, work-based learning, higher education, and more. These sessions prepared attendees to advance NSC’s new 2016 federal legislative agenda

Engaging Policymakers 

On Tuesday, Summit participants made over 200 visits with members of Congress and their staff, consulted with White House officials, and engaged with lawmakers on Twitter in record numbers. Participants asked their Senators and Representatives to endorse a bill, sponsor legislation, engage their colleagues, or take some other concrete step designed to advance our shared skills agenda in 2016. 

Prior to the impactful visits to Capitol Hill, on Monday, Summit attendees met with top Congressional and Administration officials. Keynote speaker Senator U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), co-chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus addressed attendees about the importance of CTE and support for short-term training. Kaine introduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act in the Senate - legislation that would amend the Higher Education Act by expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term job training programs. Kaine told the crowd, “When the thing is right, the time is right.” On the eve of the hill visits, Kaine really fired everyone up to meet with their lawmakers to advance career and technical education policy along with our full range of workforce and education policy asks. 

Summit participants also met with agency leadership about federal implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act including Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary of the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor;  Nisha Patel, Director of the Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Cheryl Keenan, Director of  Adult Education and Literacy at the Office of Career Technical and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education.

Celebrating a Movement 

In addition to celebrating NSC’s 15th anniversary, we also honored a number of outstanding advocates at this year’s Skills Summit, including our Skills Champion – a coalition member whose exceptional organizing and advocacy efforts have moved the skills agenda forward in their state or in Washington D.C. NSC awarded the 2016 Skills Champion Award to Erick Ajax, Vice President and Co-Owner of E.J. Ajax and Sons and founding executive committee member of Business Leaders United, for his outstanding work to ensure our country’s policymakers invest, aggressively and effectively, in the skills of America’s workers. 

Jerry Rubin of the JVS Boston was awarded the Social Butterfly Award. The award recognizes people and organizations that engage key stakeholders and build awareness of policy and programmatic solutions for meeting the demand for skills on social media. With hundreds of followers on Twitter, Jerry Rubin/JVS Boston keeps them updated on the collaborative’ s efforts, pressing topics in the local community, and national developments on workforce issues.

The Ohio delegation was given the State of Action Award. Thanks to the persistent advocacy efforts of the Ohio delegation, the state is now home to several policies and practices that help elevate and move forward workforce development wins. Whether it was through administrative and legislative achievements the Ohio delegation made sure their state was involved in these award winning actions. 

The Taking Care of Business Award was given to Amy Lancaster, Director of Workforce Development/Public Policy at the Metro Atlanta Chamber. When it comes to engaging employers in workforce policy conversations, Amy takes care of business. Amy has been working with Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) to bring the employer voice into the workforce development policy discussion.

The Game Changer Award was given to Laura Rowley from Seattle Jobs Initiative for their work helping states use their SNAP employment and training programs to provide skill-building opportunities for participants.

Those Who Made it All Possible

A big thank you to the support of NSC’s funders – all of the policy analysis that occurs in the months before the Summit and helps us to ensure a rich experience for participants would not be possible without their continued support of NSC. Additional thanks belong to our 2016 Skills Summit sponsors: JPMorgan Chase & Co., Siemens FoundationUSA Funds, and WKF Giving Fund.

Looking Ahead to 2017!

We are already planning next year’s summit! The 2017 Skills Summit will be held February 5-7, 2017 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel. If you would like to attend next year’s event, please contact Ashley Shaw.

Visit our Flickr page to see photos from the 2016 Skills Summit. All of the materials from the Skills Summit are located on our website.  

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, Federal Funding, Higher Education Access, Immigration, Career and Technical Education, Sector Partnerships, SNAP Employment and Training, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
U.S. Department of Agriculture encourages states to make SNAP E&T programs job-driven

Earlier this week, USDA Undersecretary for Food Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon issued an official communication to state SNAP agency commissioners urging them to incorporate job-driven elements into their SNAP employment and training (E&T) programs. The communication identified skill-building for SNAP participants as one of USDA’s top priorities.

It also described the following actions that Commissioners can take to make SNAP E&T programs job-driven:

  • Connect programs to jobs that exist in the labor market and make them responsive to the needs of local industries and employers
  • Create opportunities for participants to earn employer-valued postsecondary credentials that are portable and stackable
  • Promote practices that accelerate learning and transitions to employment, such as contextualized learning, dual enrollment, bridge programs, and career pathways
  • Help participants gain work experience by encouraging work-based learning opportunities, such as internships, pre-apprenticeships, registered apprenticeships, and on-the-job training
  • Provide robust support services to address barriers to training and employment 
  • Leverage resources by developing partnerships with other education and training agencies and institutions, such as community colleges, community-based organizations, American Job Centers, adult education providers, and TANF agencies
  • Use FNS’s first-ever reporting requirements and additional metrics to measure outcomes and manage program success.

These recommendations reflect best practices in SNAP E&T that NSC has promoted for the past several years. With support from the Annie E. Casey and W.K. Kellogg foundations, NSC has partnered with Seattle Jobs Initiative to elevate SNAP E&T’s potential to prepare participants for family-supporting jobs. As Undersecretary Concannon’s communication notes, Seattle Jobs Initiative is now leading Food and Nutrition Service’s SNAP E&T Center of Excellence, which will provide resources to help states expand skills-based SNAP E&T programs. NSC applauds USDA for its commitment to expanding skill-building opportunities for SNAP participants.

Posted In: SNAP Employment and Training

NSC talks skills policies with state legislators

  ·   By Brooke DeRenzis
NSC talks skills policies with state legislators

This past month, NSC staff went on the road to help state legislators build their knowledge of skills policies. NSC participated in two October convenings aimed at increasing state legislators’ understanding of strategies for improving families’ economic outcomes. The Annie E. Casey Foundation was a convening partner at both events.

On October 1, Senior State Policy Analyst Brooke DeRenzis participated in National Conference of State Legislatures' (NCSL) Human Services Chairs Meeting in New Orleans.  There, Brooke gave a presentation on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) to legislators from over a dozen states. At the meeting, Brooke described how states can leverage investments in education and training for low-income people to expand skill-building opportunities for SNAP E&T participants. She also highlighted the opportunity for states to align SNAP E&T with other education and training programs through the WIOA state planning process.   

On October 23, Brooke was joined by Senior Policy Analyst Amanda Bergson-Shilcock at a Miami convening hosted by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. NALEO’s Policy Institute on Economic Success for Working Families and Children brought together state legislators from across the country. In a morning session on “Why Skills Matter,” Brooke and Amanda briefed participants on the demand for middle-skill jobs, which require education and training beyond high school but not a four-year degree. They shared data on the skill needs of the U.S. workforce, including those of Latino workers, and explained that states can use job-driven training programs to prepare young people and adults for middle-skill jobs. In the afternoon, Brooke and Amanda participated in a panel on “Innovations and Promising Practices in State Policy" with Vickie Choitz of the Aspen Institute. During this discussion, Brooke and Amanda gave examples of states that have established policies to support sector partnerships and career pathways.

National Skills Coalition has developed several resources that state legislators and other state policymakers can use to inform skills policies in their states. A big thanks to NCSL, NALEO Educational Fund, and Annie E. Casey Foundation for giving us the opportunity to share our expertise! 

Posted In: SNAP Employment and Training, Sector Partnerships, Career Pathways
National Skills Coalition hosts annual state workforce advocates meeting

On September 24-25, workforce advocates from 12 states gathered in Columbus, Ohio for an annual meeting hosted by National Skills Coalition. There was also representation from two national partners, the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).  During the two-day meeting, participants discussed policy solutions they could use to address a variety of issues facing workers and employers back in their states, such as state policies to support sector partnerships and career pathways, and state investments in training for good jobs. They also discussed opportunities to advocate for these policies by participating in WIOA planning and implementation and working with state officials and agency leaders. 

Through the meeting’s cross-state sharing sessions, interactive panels, and facilitated dialogues, participants were able to get advice and swap stories from the trenches with their peers. 

During panel discussions, Steve Hertzenberg of the Keystone Research Center in PA and Jessica Fraser of the Indiana Institute for Working Families shared lessons learned from advocating for sector partnership policies in their states. 21 states currently have policies to support local sector partnerships, and as such, are positioned to help local communities meet the needs of both workers and employers in key industries, according to NSC’s recent report, Skills in the States: Sector Partnership Policy, a first-ever 50-state scan. NSC will be releasing a toolkit to guide states that are looking to build local sector partnership policies or strengthen already existing ones.

Frank Waterous of the Bell Policy Center in Colorado and Alysia Ordway of Strategy Matters in Massachusetts discussed opportunities to advance career pathways. Group discussions that followed these panels underscored sustainable funding, coordination across education and training agencies, and good data systems as critical elements of policies to support sector partnerships and career pathways.

Meeting participants also discussed ways to use WIOA state planning and implementation to promote skills strategies and access to training for individuals with barriers to work. They discussed opportunities to align programs such as adult education, occupational training, and TANF and SNAP employment and training services under WIOA. They also highlighted the need to improve training participants’ access to support services like child care and financial counseling.  Advocates identified opportunities to weigh in during their state’s planning and implementation process including:

  • Participating in public planning sessions and state workforce board meetings
  • Reviewing and providing feedback on draft state plans, policies, and technical guidance
  • Asking state workforce boards to report on implementation of state plans

A special thanks to the United Way of Central Ohio and all of our partners in attendance for making this meeting possible! NSC looks forward to continuing our work with state coalitions and providing support for advancing their policy agendas in the year ahead.

Posted In: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, SNAP Employment and Training, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Implementation, Career Pathways, Sector Partnerships
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