Reporter’s notebook

  • Commerce Department to invest $500M in workforce training, partnerships
  • New names for three Virginia community colleges
  • Ivy Tech to provide ABE services at 15 Indiana correctional facilities

Commerce Department to invest $500M in workforce training, partnerships

The U.S. Commerce Department on Thursday announced that it will provide $500 million to invest in building and strengthening regional workforce training systems and sector-based partnerships, with a focus on programs targeted at women, people of color and historically underserved communities.

The funding will come through the department’s new Investing in America’s Communities program, which is tapping $3 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act as part of an economic development initiative to rebuild U.S. communities.

The department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) will make grants to state and local governmental entities, institutions of higher education, not-for-profit entities, unions and tribes.

“EDA will invest in infrastructure, innovation and workforce training to create good-paying American jobs and strengthen our nation’s global economic competitiveness,” according to a fact sheet from Commerce.

EDA’s grantees will help workers complete training programs, including registered apprenticeships, and secure good-paying jobs by providing wraparound services, like childcare and transportation, according to Commerce.

Notices of funding opportunities will be released shortly.

New names for three Virginia community colleges

Virginia’s State Board for Community Colleges on Thursday approved new names for two colleges and accepted a local advisory board’s recommendation to clarify the name of a third college.

As a result, John Tyler Community College will become Brightpoint Community College; Lord Fairfax Community College will become Laurel Ridge Community College; and Patrick Henry Community College will insert an ampersand in its name, becoming Patrick & Henry Community College, highlighting the names of the counties that it serves.

“I applaud the hard work these colleges and their leaders have done to ensure that their institutions are welcoming and connected to the students they serve and the students they seek to serve,” Nathaniel Bishop, who chairs the state board, said in a statement.

The board also approved a recommendation from the local advisory board of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College to change its name. The college and Thomas Nelson Community College are expected to return to the board in the fall to recommend new names.

The state board’s decisions are the latest steps in a process that began nearly a year ago when it asked local college advisory boards to review the appropriateness of the names of their college, campuses and facilities.

Ivy Tech to provide ABE services at 15 Indiana correctional facilities

Ivy Tech Community College will provide adult basic education services and college-credit courses at 15 Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) facilities across the state.

“Education is important for the incarcerated population we serve and is an essential part of our mission for successful re-entry into communities upon release from an Indiana DOC facility. This partnership allows us to continue fulfilling that mission,” said Christine Blessinger, the department’s deputy commissioner of re-entry and youth services.

Under the leadership of the Ivy Tech Madison campus, nearly 90 employees will serve an estimated 3,600 incarcerated individuals statewide, providing workforce preparation activities, integrated education and training, integrated English literacy and civics education, and English as a second language skills.

Ivy Tech and IDOC have agreed to a four-year contract for the services. The college said the agreement builds on prior work Ivy Tech did with IDOC that started in 2017. Through that partnership, 699 individuals were provided the opportunity to participate in training such as manufacturing production, CNC machining, OSHA training and welding. To date, these students have earned 1,280 industry-recognized certifications preparing them for entry-level careers in high-wage, high-demand fields, according to Ivy Tech.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.