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CAEL Pathways Blog

2024 Cohorts Offering Free Technical Assistance for Community College SNAP E&T Participation Now Open

In October 2022, CAEL announced the Adult Learner Centered & Equity Framework for Community Colleges in a SNAP Network (ALCEF). At no cost to participants, ALCEF is using CAEL’s Academy model to deliver a comprehensive suite of technical assistance to year-long cohorts of community colleges. Any community college looking to initiate or expand capacity to participate in employment and training supportive services under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program is eligible to participate. 

ALCEF’s next series of cohorts begins in late February. For more information, institutions are invited to attend information sessions January 25 at 3 p.m. ET or February 9 at 11 a.m. ET. Arrangements for participating can be made through Rachel Hirsch at rhirsch@cael.org.

ALCEF support covers all functions needed for community colleges to be successful SNAP Employment and Training partners. Each college participant receives one-on-one technical assistance from CAEL and partner experts. Additional activities include implementation, planning, and execution workshops; capacity-building strategy sessions; regional conferences; and building and fostering holistic collaboration among community colleges, workforce development boards, employers, and workforce and human service providers. Among the key topics are building effective and equitable education-employment partnerships, crafting winning RFP responses, student engagement and enrollment strategies, and complying with federal funding guidelines.

“I appreciate the group instruction format combined with the individual institution meetings,” said an inaugural cohort participant. “Getting to hear from the experts in those small group formats was especially important for us to identify barriers and discuss strategies to overcome them. But the large group format gave us a chance to hear from other colleges and learn more about what they are doing, which also helped me gain insights into the challenges that we share.”

ALCEF is made possible by a $1.4 million U.S. Department of Agriculture SNAP Employment and Training National Partnership Grant. With more than 40 million Americans suffering from food insecurity, SNAP assistance includes access to work experience and training critical to leading people not only out of poverty but into prosperity. The SNAP Employment and Training program can even fund transportation and child care services to help learners and workers access education and employment opportunities. 

All 50 states are required to offer SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) programs, which receive hundreds of millions of federal funding annually. However, underutilization has been a concern. The SNAP E&T program grants substantial flexibility to state policymakers and encourages diverse partnerships to amplify impact. Such latitude maximizes potential for workers and learners. But for community colleges wanting to connect students to SNAP E&T benefits or even to become a SNAP E&T provider themselves, the considerations can be complex. By drawing upon a network of national partners, ALCEF can provide seamless and localized guidance tailored to each participant’s operating niche.

ALCEF is dedicated to increasing awareness of and participation in SNAP E&T programs, including workers, learners, and the community colleges that serve them. To maximize inclusivity, ALCEF offers a choice of parallel cohorts. One is for community colleges already established as third-party SNAP E&T providers. The other is for is for institutions interested in initiating SNAP E&T programs.

Following the success of the inaugural cohorts, which concluded at the end of September 2023, CAEL has incorporated emerging trends and other initial cohort outcomes to help promote ALCEF. During its annual conference, held Nov. 8-10, CAEL presented several sessions devoted to key SNAP E&T issues.

One session offered guidance on how colleges can leverage non-federal funds already being spent on SNAP E&T-eligible students to receive up to a 50% reimbursement on funds for the college to use to support additional students and programs. Another focused on a review of federal programming that could benefit students and improve education outcomes at no cost to colleges, including child care, nutrition assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act.

All of these topics – and more – will be covered in the upcoming cohorts, which will include a regional summit this spring at the Atlanta AMA Executive Conference Center. CAEL, along with ALCEF partners Seattle Jobs Initiatives, Grant Associates, and American Public Human Services Association, will draw upon their collective experience and expertise to share established and emerging best practices for community colleges to innovate student support solutions through SNAP E&T programs. 

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