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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.


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Posted In: SNAP Employment and Training, Oregon

Upcoming webinar will explore WIOA’s role in supporting corrections and re-entry services

  ·   By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock,
Upcoming webinar will explore WIOA’s role in supporting corrections and re-entry services

Services for people who are currently incarcerated or who have criminal records are an important element of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. An upcoming webinar from National Skills Coalition will explore policy avenues for improving adult education and workforce services for people who are incarcerated or who are returning to their communities after incarceration.

Featured Speakers

  • Sherri Moses, Council of State Governments Justice Center. Sherri will discuss opportunities under WIOA for better serving people with criminal records.
  • Will Heaton, Center for Employment Opportunities. Will will share examples of how two states – Pennsylvania and California – have used WIOA planning processes and funding mechanisms to address the needs of formerly incarcerated individuals.
  • Gillian Gabelmann, Washburn Tech University. Gillian will provide a case study highlighting adult education and workforce-preparation services in a Kansas correctional facility for women, using an Integrated Education and Training (IET) model.

The webinar will be moderated by NSC’s Director of Upskilling Policy, Amanda Bergson-Shilcock. It will be held on May 18, 2017 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Register now to ensure your place.

Background: How Widespread are WIOA-Funded Re-Entry Services?

A 2015 survey by the National Association of Counties (NACo) found that nearly half (47%) of local workforce boards reported that they were providing re-entry services for people returning to the community after incarceration. More specifically, 44% of workforce boards were providing re-entry services to adults, and 30% were providing such services to youth.

Many workforce boards fund re-entry services using WIOA Title I Adult, Dislocated Worker, or Youth dollars. NACo’s report Second Chances, Safer Counties includes several short case studies of how boards are using such funding as well as other federal and state sources. They include:

In addition to WIOA formula funds to the states, additional funding for services to formerly incarcerated people is available through the WIOA Sec. 169 Re-Entry Employment Opportunities (REO) program. REO is administered by the US Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The most recent round of REO grants was awarded in June 2016 and totaled $64.5 million.

Background: Understanding the Demand for WIOA Adult Education Services in Corrections

Under WIOA Sec. 225, states may use up to 20% of their WIOA Title II funds to provide adult education programs for individuals who are currently incarcerated. This is an increase from the earlier Workforce Investment Act, which had allowed states to use up to 10% of their funds for corrections education.

The increase reflects a growing understanding of the deep need for adult education programs serving people who are incarcerated. Data from the rigorous international assessment known as the PIAAC show that a substantial percentage of incarcerated individuals in the United States have basic skills gaps.

In particular, a full 30% of incarcerated adults lack a high school diploma. People who are incarcerated are also more likely to have low literacy levels, with 29% scoring below Level 2 on the PIAAC, compared to 19% of those in US households.  Incarcerated individuals are even more likely to have low numeracy scores, with 52% scoring below Level 2 compared to 29% of adults in US households.

Many people in prison have a strong interest in continuing their education: A full 70% of incarcerated individuals who were not currently enrolled in an education program said that they wanted to pursue one.

More information is available in the publication Highlights from the US PIAAC Survey of Incarcerated Adults: Their Skills, Work Experience, Education and Training, published by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2016.


Learn more about these important issues in NSC’s May 18 webinar

Posted In: Adult Basic Education, California, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Oregon, West Virginia, Wisconsin

NSC Releases Recommendations on Building Skills through SNAP E&T

  ·   By Brooke DeRenzis
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

NSC and Seattle Jobs Initiative announce SNAP E&T projects in four states

  ·   By Brooke DeRenzis and David Kaz
NSC and Seattle Jobs Initiative announce SNAP E&T projects in four states

National Skills Coalition and Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI) have selected four states to receive technical assistance with their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) programs. Starting this month, we will work with teams in Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, and Oregon to help them advance skills-based SNAP E&T programs. These states are aiming to build the skills of SNAP participants through partnerships between state SNAP E&T agencies, community colleges, and other organizations.

The federal SNAP E&T program provides resources for employment, training, and support services for SNAP recipients. In addition to E&T formula funds, the federal government provides “50-50 reimbursement grants” that can reimburse states for up to 50 percent of E&T program costs such as those for adult education and training, as well as supportive services necessary for individuals to participate in SNAP E&T, such as child care, transportation, and supplies and books. Only expenditures covered by certain non-federal resources are eligible for reimbursement. SNAP E&T can build skills-based programs by leveraging the expertise and resources of third-party partners, such as community colleges and community-based organizations.

The four states participating in this project will benefit from SJI’s experience helping Washington State create, grow, and document its well-respected Basic Food Employment & Training (BFET) program. BFET is the only statewide “third-party match” program in the nation, utilizing 50-50 funds to partner with community colleges and community-based organizations in SNAP E&T service delivery. Just as importantly, NSC and SJI will work with participating states to identify opportunities to connect their SNAP E&T programs to broader state workforce development strategies.

NSC and SJI’s SNAP E&T partnership started in 2014, with generous support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and The Annie E. Casey Foundation. In 2014, the partnership produced a detailed toolkit to guide states through the process of establishing skills-based SNAP E&T programs using 50-50 funds and third-party partnerships. With the support of Kellogg and Casey Foundations, we also hosted a full-day training session to provide step-by-step guidance based on Washington State’s BFET program.

The NSC-SJI partnership will provide technical assistance to Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, and Oregon through 2015 and will share key lessons learned in early 2016. For more information on this project, please contact Brooke DeRenzis, National Skills Coalition or David Kaz, Seattle Jobs Initiative.  

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

Governors propose new workforce initiatives.

  ·   By Bryan Wilson,

More than a dozen governors have announced new legislative and budget proposals to support workforce development efforts in their state. As state budgets recover from the recession, these governors are targeting middle-skill training for increased investments, including proposals to provide support for employer-led sector partnerships, to align the state’s workforce system, to make technical and community college affordable, and to assist the long-term unemployed back to work. Below are a few of these gubernatorial initiatives.

The governors of Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin have requested funding for new or enhanced programs for middle-skill training. Florida Governor Rick Scott proposed $30 million to train incumbent and unemployed workers for middle-skill STEM (i.e., science, technology, engineering and math) and other high demand/high wage fields, and to provide scholarships for students. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker requested a $35 million enhancement for Wisconsin’s Fast Forward program to support dual enrollment programs between school districts and technical colleges that target high demand jobs; increase technical college capacity to eliminate waiting lists in high demand fields; and support programs helping people with disabilities enter the workforce.  

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett requested $5 million in additional funding for three middle-skill job training programs for employer-driven training, including services to people with disabilities. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon proposed a $4.5 million increase for the Missouri Works Training Program, a customized training program for employers. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad proposed tripling state funding for apprenticeships, and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee requested a $500,000 enhancement from the state general fund for the state’s workforce investment system.  

Governors in Connecticut and Kentucky proposed new efforts to fill skill gaps in advanced manufacturing. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy proposed $25 million to create an advanced manufacturing fund to support workforce training and other assistance for employers. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear proposed $24 million in general fund-supported bonds to build an advanced manufacturing training center to serve as a direct pipeline for high demand workers. 

Malloy also proposed measures to assist the long-term unemployed (LTU). He requested $3.6 million to establish a program to replicate Platform to Employment. The program provides five weeks of intensive job readiness training, behavioral health services, financial coaching, and eight weeks of subsidized work experience. Malloy also proposed legislation to prevent employers from screening out LTU applicants merely because they are unemployed.  

The governors of Ohio and Oregon introduced proposals to increase the alignment of their workforce development systems. Ohio Governor John Kasich proposed a single integrated state plan for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE), and Adult Basic Education. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber requested legislation authorizing the State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB) to assist the governor in approving the plans of local workforce investment boards (LWIBs) and in establishing criteria for LWIB membership. The bill also authorized the SWIB to hold workforce agencies and LWIBs accountable for meeting performance goals.

Finally, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal proposed funding to cover the cost of tuition for technical college students in high demand fields, and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam proposed free tuition for high school graduates if they attend a community college or college of applied technology.

NSC will continue to monitor and provide updates as these proposals move forward.

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Career Pathways, Job-Driven Investments, Kentucky, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Ohio, Oregon, Georgia

New NDD United Report: Faces of Austerity.

  ·   By Josh Spaulding,

Today, NDD United, an alliance co-convened by National Skills Coalition (NSC) that includes more than 3,200 national, state and local organizations working to stop needless cuts to core government functions, released “Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Have Made Us Sicker, Poorer, and Less Safe.” The report is the first comprehensive look at the impact of sequestration across several sectors, including workforce development, telling the stories of those who have been impacted most by Washington’s failure to protect the programs that keep us healthy, safe, educated and ready to work. 

Federal funding for discretionary programs is severely restricted over the next decade as a result of the budget caps and mandatory spending cuts (known as sequestration) created under the Budget Control Act. By 2023, funding for discretionary programs will be cut by more than $2 trillion relative to the inflation-adjusted 2010 funding levels. As a result, NDD spending will equal a smaller percentage of our economy than ever before—with data going back to 1962—if lawmakers do not act to replace sequestration with a more meaningful and comprehensive deficit reduction strategy. 

Employment and job training programs have been particularly hard hit by sequestration. Since 2010, funding has been cut by more than $1 billion. Education and training providers have had to reduce services, fewer workers have been served, and fewer employers have the skilled workers they need to grow their businesses. NDD programs have borne more than their fair share of funding cuts. 

At the release event, Ryan Dinkgrave, government affairs manager at Focus: HOPE which is one of the featured organizations in the report, talked about how the cuts have impacted jobseekers and employers in Detroit. One of those employers, Rosemary Brewer of Detroit Manufacturing System (DMS), was looking for new, skilled employees when DMS started operations in spring 2012. She was able to turn to organizations like Focus: HOPE to find workers with the skills DMS needed to fill 800 open positions. Under sequestration, programs like Focus: HOPE will be less able to fill this need.

As Congress continues working toward a budget agreement that is due by mid-December, they must find a balanced approach that ends sequestration before more damage is done to programs millions of people rely upon, including in:

  • Detroit, Michigan. Since fiscal year 2012, federal employment and job training funds for Focus: HOPE have been cut by more than $5 million, reducing the number of people trained and increasing waiting lists.
  • Northern New England. Due to reduction in funding for On-the-Job Training (OJT), local businesses on the cusp of expanding their workforce instead have been forced to leave jobs unfilled because Goodwill NNE does not have the funding to place clients into jobs.
  • Lane County, Oregon. Over the past three years, the number of vouchers available to jobseekers for skills training has fallen from 160 to 43, and OJT opportunities are down from 101 to 63.
  • Hot Springs, Arkansas. The Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative (CPI) has seen a more than 50 percent increase in demand, but the program is no longer able to accept new students due to funding cuts.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio. As a result of sequestration, the SuperJobs Center’s budget will be cut 26 percent.

Many of these stories were also included in “Undoing Success: The Real Impact of Federal Workforce Development Funding Cuts on Jobseekers and Employers,” a NSC report that  included an analysis of a national survey NSC conducted to better understand the impact of federal funding cuts. Survey respondents reported that they have been forced to lay off and/or furlough staff, reduce employment services to jobseekers and employers, close career centers, delay purchasing essential equipment, and reduce or completely eliminate job training programs.

“Faces of Austerity”, “Undoing Success”, and other information about federal funding cuts impact on workforce development programs can be found at www.nationalskillscoalition.org/ShareTheImpact. There you will also have the opportunity to share with NSC how your organization has been impacted by cuts to federal workforce development funding. 

Posted In: Federal Funding, Arkansas, Michigan, Oregon, Ohio, NDD United

NSC report shows impact of federal funding cuts.

  ·   By Josh Spaulding,
Today, National Skills Coalition released its new report, Undoing Success: The Real Impact of Federal Workforce Development Funding Cuts on Jobseekers and Employers. The report examines Congress’ un-balanced approach to deficit reduction that has led to massive cuts to federal workforce development funding, and highlights the real consequences of these cuts on jobseekers and employers told through survey results and local impact stories.

Over the past three years, Congress has cut funding to employment and job training programs by over $1 billion. Sequestration and spending caps will result in further cuts for the next decade. In addition, some in Congress are proposing additional, even deeper cuts that will worsen the existing skills gap and make it difficult for businesses to grow and compete globally.

To understand the impact these cuts will have on our workforce, National Skills Coalition surveyed its members in June and collected stories of how previous cuts to federal workforce funding have impacted their ability to provide employment and job training services to jobseekers and employers, and how additional cuts under sequestration will further impact these programs. According to the report:

  • Ninety-three percent of survey respondents saw federal funding cuts to their programs over the past three years, even though 75 percent reported an increase in workers seeking employment and job training assistance; 
  • Sixty-seven percent of respondents reduced the number of clients they have enrolled in job training programs; 
  • Over 20 percent of respondents have eliminated job training programs; 
  • Many have reduced or eliminated employer services including On-The-Job Training (OJT) (40 percent), candidate screening (30 percent), and Incumbent Worker Training (35 percent).

The report also tells the stories of workers and employers in six states—Arkansas, California, Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Oregon—and how the programs that have helped them compete have been affected by federal funding cuts.

Unless Congress replaces sequestration with a more balanced approach to deficit reduction, these programs will face further cuts for the next decade under statutory budget caps and sequestration. As a result, workers like Deangelo in Detroit, highlighted in this report, will not be able to get the skills and employment services they need for the jobs employers will need to fill.

The full report is available on National Skills Coalition’s website at: http://www.nationalskillscoalition.org/assets/reports-/undoing-success.pdf


Posted In: Federal Funding, California, Arkansas, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Massachusetts

DOL awards WDQI grants.

  ·   By Angela Hanks,

This week, the Department of Labor announced $6.4 million in Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) grants to 6 states to develop or improve their workforce data systems. 

The grants awarded to Kansas, Oregon, North Carolina, and Wyoming will help those states develop new longitudinal data systems, while the awards obtained by Ohio and Virginia will help them improve their existing data systems. Statewide longitudinal workforce systems established or expanded through these grants should collect individual-level data from Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records, UI benefit claims, Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Titles I and II, Wagner-Peyser Employment Services (ES), Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), and other training and employment programs. 

During the three year grant period, grantees are expected to: 

  • Develop and improve state workforce longitudinal data systems with individual-level information; 
  • Enable workforce data to be matched with education data to create longitudinal data systems; 
  • Improve the quality and breadth of the data in the workforce data systems; 
  • Use longitudinal data to provide useful information about program operations; 
  • Analyze the performance of education and employment training programs; and 
  • Provide user-friendly information to consumers to help them select the training and education programs that best suit their needs.  

The WDQI grant program was created in 2010 to help states develop or improve their state workforce longitudinal data systems in an effort to make workforce education and training programs more effective. This is the third – and smallest – round of WDQI grants. The first two rounds disbursed a total of $24 million to 23 states. In his 2014 budget, President Obama requested just $6 million for WDQI grants. 

National Skills Coalition, as a member of the Workforce Data Quality Campaign has called on Congress to ensure state longitudinal data systems are inclusive, aligned and market relevant so they may provide useful information to the public, to the private-sector, and to policymakers about the skills, employment, and earning outcomes of our students and workers, and about the ability of U.S. businesses to fill skilled positions with our education and training programs’ graduates.

Posted In: Data and Credentials, Kansas, Oregon, North Carolina, Wyoming, Virginia, Ohio, Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Grants supporting manufacturing announced.

On October 9, the Obama Administration announced $20 million in awards under the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a multiagency effort to support regional industry cluster initiatives that strengthen advanced manufacturing at the local level. The grants were awarded to 10 public-private partnerships made up of small and large business, colleges, nonprofits, and local stakeholders.  

Grants were awarded to clusters in Arizona, California, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.  It is estimated that the grantees will train as many as 1,000 workers, and will help nearly 650 companies leverage regional resources to create jobs nationwide. 

The Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is a partnership between the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the Small Business Administration, and the National Science Foundation.   Eight other federal agencies will provide technical assistance to grantees.  

This is the third round of the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, an initiative designed by the interagency Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters (TARIC).

Posted In: Sector Partnerships, Arizona, California, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington