Reporter’s notebook

Photo: Matthew Dembicki

  • Congress moves on HPOG
  • In New Jersey, extra funding for basic skills training
  • PepsiCo adds colleges to its community college scholarship program

Congress moves on HPOG

Senate Democrats this week reintroduced legislation to expand the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program. It comes after House Democrats were able to secure the program’s reauthorization as part of the Build Back Better Act, something the Senate Democrats also want to do.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) reintroduced the Pathways to Health Careers Act on Monday. HPOG combines job training (typically at a community college) with critical family supports that low-income parents need to succeed in achieving their healthcare career goals.

“This legislation includes support for services like childcare, transportation and career coaching to provide a supportive pathway to a career – not just an entry-level job – in a well-paid and in-demand health profession,” Heinrich said.

Related article: HPOG creates a path out of poverty

Democrats contend the HPOG program, which was created by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, stands out among other job training approaches because of the mix of support services, career coaching, job placement and post-employment training provided as part of the program. Republicans, however, have said that while the program has success in its number of completers, it hasn’t necessarily resulted in higher wages or better-paying jobs. The legislation aims to address some of those concerns, Democrats say.

The Senate bill, which is supported by the American Association of Community Colleges, would extend current HPOG pilot projects to finish the current grant cycle, authorize two new demonstration grants and begin providing regular HPOG competitive grants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with a focus on rural areas and tribal communities.

In New Jersey, extra funding for basic skills training

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy this week signed legislation that provides $3 million for workplace literacy and basic skills training delivered through the state’s 18 public two-year colleges.

The funding would come through the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development. Its Workplace Literacy and Basic Skills Training Program, started in 2007, is a statewide partnership between community colleges and the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. More than 11,000 employers have used the program to train more than 188,000 employees at community colleges, according to the consortium.

The free training offered through the program includes:

  • Technology training for Windows, MS Office 365, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, databases, PC data storage and cloud computing.
  • Enhanced business skills training for verbal, written and customer-service communications.
  • Measurements/mathematics, professionalism, problem-solving/critical-thinking, team-building, time management, team leadership and supervisory/management skills.
  • Language training for English as a second language and Spanish for managers, and Spanish in the workplace.

PepsiCo adds colleges to its community college scholarship program

PepsiCo and its philanthropic arm announced Wednesday the expansion of The PepsiCo Foundation Community College Program to nine new community colleges.

With this expansion, the program aims to provide more than 1,400 scholarship opportunities for Black and Hispanic students across the country by the end of 2022. Currently active in Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Westchester, New York, the program is expanding to:

  • Los Angeles Community College District
  • Miami Dade College
  • Wayne County Community College District (Detroit)
  • Atlanta Metropolitan State College
  • Ivy Tech Community College (Indianapolis, Indiana)
  • Maricopa Community College District (Phoenix, Arizona)
  • Valencia College (Orlando, Florida)
  • Alamo Colleges District (San Antonio, Texas)
  • Prince George’s Community College (Largo, Maryland)

Launched in March, the $40 million program supports incoming community college students and graduating students transitioning to four-year colleges. To ensure that students not only get to college, but have the resources and support they need to complete, the program aims to support 4,000 Black and Hispanic students over five years by providing professional mentoring, financial assistance for tuition and eligible living expenses like childcare and transportation.

About the Author

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