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CAEL Awarded $1.4 million U.S. Department of Agriculture SNAP Employment and Training National Partnership Grant

 

CAEL will lead three-year initiative to increase access to education and training opportunities that improve SNAP program efficiency and equitable employment and earnings outcomes

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), part of Strada Collaborative, a nonprofit comprised of several organizations that develop and advance promising practices driven by research and evidence to better link education and careers, announced that it will be leading a U.S. Department of Agriculture national partnership grant awarded to Strada Collaborative that will help states better support participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). All states maintain federally funded SNAP Employment and Training programs that provide assistance to job seekers, including upskilling and reskilling resources. CAEL’s partnership grant will bolster these programs by creating the Adult Learner Centered & Equity Framework for Community Colleges in a SNAP Network (ALCEF), a national coalition of 80 community colleges exploring, developing best practices for, and connecting to their local SNAP Employment and Training programs. 

ALCEF’s fundamental purpose is introducing more adult learners to SNAP Employment and Training benefits within the community college environment. To do so, it will build and foster holistic collaboration among community colleges, workforce development boards, employers, workforce and human service providers, and other components vital to an effective and equitable education-employment ecosystem. This inclusive strategy aligns with student success measures important to CAEL and its members, including retention, academic success, completion, and post-completion outcomes. 

"CAEL was founded the same year that the federal food stamp program was implemented on a nationwide basis, and our nonprofit work to support adult learners and equitable economic mobility often occurs in spaces adjacent to the SNAP mission,” said Earl Buford, CAEL president. “These intersectional opportunities are only increasing today as investments in SNAP Employment and Training programs create opportunities for working adults to acquire the skills needed to empower them not only to achieve self-sufficiency in the short term but also to access long-term, rewarding career pathways.”

ALCEF partners include Seattle Jobs Initiative, a national expert on SNAP E&T programs, Grant Associates, which has helped more than 1 million people advance their careers and over 50,000 businesses connect to skilled workers, and the American Public Human Services Association, a bipartisan, nonprofit association representing state and local health and human services agencies.

“ALCEF aggregates technical expertise, access, credibility, and shared goals around equity, bringing multiple levels of SNAP Employment and Training knowledge, implementation, and capacity to local network and policy dynamics,” said Ryan Davis, executive director of SJI. The coalition’s holistic strengths include CAEL’s membership, which represents a community of postsecondary institutions and organizations committed to supporting adult learners as they navigate their education and career pathways and features more than 75 community colleges across 27 states. CAEL also will draw upon members of its Latino Adult Student Success Academy and the many additional relationships it maintains with postsecondary institutions, industry groups, and workforce associations to further ALCEF’s mission. 

ALCEF will establish a four-phase continuum of collaboration: surveying for interest; exploration and information sessions; assessment, implementation planning, and execution workshops; and advanced strategy capacity building sessions for third party SNAP Employment and Training providers. The survey phase will begin later this year to establish two cohorts of community colleges. One will consist of institutions interested in initiating SNAP Employment and Training programs, while the other will be comprised of institutions already established as SNAP employer-driven training providers. Interested institutions should contact Robin Farabee-Siers at CAEL via email at rfarabeesiers@cael.org.

In addition to the resources already available within CAEL’s established community of practice, CAEL will leverage the dual-cohort approach to foster continual engagement that identifies and amplifies best practices. Institutions will have opportunities to forge connections with their local SNAP stakeholders and become familiar with the factors driving their communities’ employment and training priorities and practices in support of SNAP. CAEL will also host regional conferences over the course of the three-year grant, convening partners from throughout the SNAP Employment and Training service delivery network to further enrich cohort connections and learning opportunities. Focal topics will include creating and advancing strategies for enrollment, maximizing SNAP Employment and Training as an internal resource, and building a culture around using student voice and perspective to inform continuous program improvement. 

CAEL expects to convene a total of 80 community colleges by the end of 2025. By grounding ALCEF in an iterative framework of continual collaboration, CAEL anticipates that this emerging coalition will flourish beyond the three-year grant period and continue to build upon a network-driven model of identifying and developing best practices.

About CAEL
Recognizing that adult learners are the backbone of the U.S. economy, CAEL helps forge a clear, viable connection between education and career success, providing solutions that promote sustainable and equitable economic growth. CAEL opens doors to opportunity in collaboration with workforce and economic developers; postsecondary educators; employers and industry groups; foundations and other mission-aligned organizations. By engaging with these stakeholders, we foster a culture of innovative, lifelong learning that helps individuals and their communities thrive. A membership organization established in 1974, CAEL is a part of Strada Collaborative, a mission-driven nonprofit. Learn more at cael.org and stradacollaborative.org.

About Seattle Jobs Initiative
Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI) is a recognized national expert on SNAP E&T, offering expertise on SNAP E&T operations, best practices, and the development of SNAP E&T program infrastructure for states, counties, community colleges, and community-based organizations. Since 2015, SJI has partnered with the Food and Nutrition Service to operate SNAP to Skills, a national initiative featuring direct technical assistance to state SNAP agencies to build and advance effective SNAP E&T programs.

About Grant Associates
Grant Associates was started in 1997 to connect Fortune 500 companies to a pipeline of skilled workers under the Welfare to Work programs of the late 1990s. Through its workforce operations, it has helped over 1,250,000 people advance their careers and over 50,000 businesses connect to skilled workers and other vital resources. 

About The American Public Human Services Association
The American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) is a bipartisan, nonprofit association representing state and local health and human services (H/HS) agencies. APHSA has direct access to state and local SNAP and SNAP E&T administrators through its affinity group, the American Association for SNAP Directors, and related workgroups, and serves as the primary national convener for SNAP Directors conferences through its annual SNAP/TANF conference. 

About Strada Collaborative 
Strada Collaborative is a nonprofit comprised of several organizations that develop and advance promising practices driven by research and evidence to better link education and careers. These innovators test ideas, learn from the field, develop real-world solutions, and build momentum to ensure more Americans are better prepared for work and can lead fulfilling lives.

This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the U.S Department of Agriculture, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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