The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), in partnership with Kentucky Adult Education (KYAE) and the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (KWIB), has been awarded a $200-thousand dollar grant as a part of Accelerating Opportunity, a Breaking Through Initiative. Supported by a strategic partnership of five of the nation's leading philanthropies, Accelerating Opportunity will help Kentucky transform adult education into more successful pathways leading to economic security for underprepared workers in today's demanding job market.
The number of adults who lack skills beyond a high school diploma is a national crisis and in Kentucky nearly 786,000 adults do not have a high school credential, preventing them from earning a wage to support a family. In fact, it is predicted by the year 2018, 54 percent of all jobs in Kentucky—more than 1 million jobs—will require some level of postsecondary education or training.
“For Kentucky to continue its economic growth, more adults must acquire the skills that prepare them for success in employment,” said KCTCS Chancellor Jay Box. “This initiative will assist our colleges in providing adult learners with a fast track education experience that will quickly prepare them for a job in high demand, high wage industry sectors.”
“The Commonwealth has a true opportunity to leverage resources to expedite learning and entry into the workforce for adults in growth sectors vital to our employer community,” echoed Beth Brinly, Commissioner for the Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development.
Eight KCTCS colleges will participate in the implementation design phase of the initiative. They include: Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Gateway Community and Technical College, Jefferson Community and Technical College, Madisonville Community College, Maysville Community and Technical College, Owensboro Community and Technical College, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and West Kentucky Community and Technical College. These colleges were selected because of leadership commitment, the strength of their local adult education program, their partnership with the local Workforce Investment Board and college history with innovative programing. The plan includes expanding the program to the remaining eight KCTCS colleges in 2014.
A Kentucky Design Team for the Accelerating Opportunity has been established to assist the colleges in creating programs that integrate basic skills with practical, occupational training. The team is comprised of 16 individuals who will meet on at least a monthly basis during the nine-month life of the design grant. The Kentucky Design Team includes:
• Dr. Jay Box, KCTCS Chancellor • Beth Brinly, Commissioner Cabinet for Education & Workforce Development • Reecie Stagnolia, Vice President CPE/Kentucky Adult Education • David Adkisson, Executive Director KY Chamber of Commerce • Ron Crouch, Director of Research & Statistics, Cabinet for Education & Workforce Development • Cris Crowley, Director of Adult Education KCTCS/ Madisonville CTC • Robert I. Curry, Executive Director, Bluegrass State Skills Corporation • Kim Dees, Vice President, Kentucky Hospital Association • John Greenwell, Coordinator of Adult Ed. Workforce Services, Jefferson County Public Schools • Greg Higdon, President/CEO, KY Association of Manufacturing (KAM) • Mark Hundley, KCTCS Grant Development Specialist • Pam Jarboe, Director of Program Services, KY Department of Vocational Rehabilitation • Dr. Gloria McCall, KCTCS Vice Chancellor • Bill Monterosso, Executive Director, OET • Dr. Aaron Thompson, Senior VP for Academic Affairs, Council on Postsecondary Education • Tom West, Executive Director, Kentucky Workforce Investment Board “Accelerating Opportunity will allow us to help adults attain both academic and occupational skills in a more integrated way than ever before, with the goal of preparing them for careers and to be college ready,” said Reecie D. Stagnolia, vice president, Kentucky Adult Education, Council on Postsecondary Education. “At the same time, the work with our statewide partners is building an important recruitment and referral model that will benefit an even greater number of adult students.”
Accelerating Opportunity seeks to change the way education is delivered to adult learners by putting adult students on track to earn a postsecondary credential so they can seize the opportunity to earn family-sustaining wages and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.
Design grants were also awarded to, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, and Wisconsin. After the design stage, the states will be eligible to compete for implementation grants, of which five states will receive $1.6 million each over three years to implement their plans. The initiative will engage nearly 40 community colleges across the country and impact more than 18 thousand adult learners. Educational pathways to higher skills, credentials and employment will be rigorously tested and independently evaluated.
Accelerating Opportunity: A Breaking Through Initiative is a multi-state effort managed by Jobs for the Future that promotes improved academic access and economic opportunity for low-skilled adults. This effort seeks to enhance adult education and postsecondary systems by integrating basic skills with occupational training and adequate institutional support for adult learners, ensuring they receive the postsecondary credentials needed to succeed in high-skilled jobs and break the cycle of poverty in their communities. Accelerating Opportunity is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations. For more information, visit www.acceleratingopportunity.org.
For more information on the Kentucky initiative, visit http://kyabetocredentials.kctcs.edu.