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Expanding Economic Opportunity and Economic Competitiveness for Delta Residents and Employers

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), a nonprofit organization that helps adult learners navigate on- and off-ramps between education and employment, is leading a partnership including two of its community colleges members – Arkansas State University Mid-South (ASU Mid-South) and Coahoma Community College (CCC), local workforce development board partners – the Workforce Development Board of Eastern Arkansas and the Delta Workforce Development Area Board, and regional employers to align education and employment and better serve adult learners and other underrepresented students in the Mississippi River Delta region.

The Advancing Delta Talent (ADT) initiative will focus on improving equitable economic opportunity in seven persistent-poverty counties within Arkansas and Mississippi. Working closely with ASU Mid-South and CCC, CAEL is fostering skills development through “stackable” college-issued and industry-based credentials, along with employability skills training through the National Career Readiness Certificate.

Key Industry Sectors:

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  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Health Care
  • Manufacturing


Career Pathway Programs:

  • Automotive and Diesel Technology


  • Collision Repair Technology
  • Truck Driving
  • EMT
  • Respiratory Therapy
  • Paramedic
  • Welding

Project Goals

  • Offering training for adult learners and others in high-demand industry sectors
  • Providing employment and work-based learning opportunities
  • Providing comprehensive support services
  • Providing implementation support to help colleges better serve adult learners


Anticipated Outcomes

  • Increased Enrollment
    • More Delta residents, including adult learners, gain access to education and training 
  • Increased Credential Attainment
    • Adult learners and other participants earn stackable and relevant credentials 
  • Enhanced Talent Pipeline and Increased Employment Outcomes
    • More employers are able to recruit and retain Delta residents into their workforces
  • Increased Equity
    • Expanded access and success in education and employment for historically underrepresented populations 
  • Expanded College Capacity
    • Improved college capacity to better serve adult learners and other participants
    • New programs developed in response to employer demand and regional workforce needs

Target Populations


  • Economically disadvantaged Delta residents
  • People of Color
  • Veterans and their spouses
  • Formerly incarcerated individuals (or those nearing release)
  • Youth (high school students without a career plan)

For more information about this initiative, contact Kari Shafenberg via email at kshafenberg@cael.org or via phone at 312-499-2600.

This project was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)'s Employment and Training Administration (ETA). It was created by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and does not necessarily reflect the official position of DOL/ETA. DOL/ETA makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership. CAEL received a U.S. DOL grant of $1,394,534 to implement this project (100% of total budget).