$40M for college-led efforts to expand training

U.S. Labor Department with Capitol. (Photo: Matthew Dembicki)

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will award a total of $40 million to community college-led partnerships to expand their training capacity through a new program. 

Individual community colleges may apply for Strengthening Community College Training Grants (SCCTG) up to $2 million, while state or regional consortia of community colleges may receive grants up to $5 million. DOL plans to award eight to 16 grants, with at least three-fourths of awards going to consortia. The application deadline is October 8.

“Community colleges are well-positioned to support the economic recovery and help the country’s robust economy return,” John Pallasch, DOL’s assistant secretary for employment and training, said in a press release. “These funds will strengthen colleges’ ability to make innovative changes in training our nation’s workforce that will make a difference immediately and can be sustained over the long-haul.”

The program is intended to be a successor to previous similar programs, such as the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants and the Community-Based Job Training Grants. It aims to address the skill development needs of employers and to support workers in gaining skills and transitioning quickly from unemployment to employment, according to DOL.

The grants also can help to build capacity among community colleges to address challenges associated with the coronavirus, such as expanding online and technology-enabled learning, and migrating services to a virtual environment.  

A House funding bill currently being considered would provide the SCCTG program with $50 million for fiscal year 2021. 

Four core elements

Applicants for the grants must show that colleges are working in partnership with industry and a local or statewide component of the federal workforce development system, such as a workforce development board. Other partners may include four-year colleges and universities and K-12 systems. Consortia applications must also involve a state or community college district-level higher education coordinating entity. 

Applications must address four core elements: 

  • evidence-based design
  • sector strategies and employer engagement
  • enhanced career pathway programs and accelerated learning strategies
  • strategic alignment with the workforce development system

Consortia applications must address an addition core element: innovative systems change. 

Included within these core elements are options for grant recipients to address issues brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. All recipients will be required to hire a third-party evaluator to assess the grant’s performance. 

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