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CAEL Pathways Blog

Intersect With Earl March 2024

In 2022, CAEL launched a national partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to introduce more adult learners to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training benefits within the community college environment. SNAP E&T benefits can help pay for SNAP-eligible students' tuition, fees, and wraparound support, such as child care. It can also help pay for transitional jobs or work-based learning programs with an income component. However, such income can count against a participant's eligibility, which can cause working people to be disqualified from a SNAP E&T program for receiving income from the program itself. The bipartisan Training & Nutrition Stability Act, introduced late last year, would prevent participants from losing access to job training programs under such circumstances. In the meantime, we look forward to hosting a free SNAP E&T summit this April, which will be immediately followed by our 2024 Thriving Communities and Economic Mobility Regional Summit.

California Competes, a nonpartisan policy group tackling California's education and workforce challenges, has published From Setback to Success: Meeting Comebackers Where They Are. The report recommends measures for helping former college students resume their pathway to a credential. Beyond its emphasis on adult learners, you’ll find several CAEL connections within the report. The term Comebackers, which it uses to refer to adult learners who reenroll, was coined by The Graduate! Network (TGN). And Dr. Su Jin Jez, CEO of California Competes, is a prior board member of TGN and the recipient of the 2021 Pamela Tate Rise Award, presented at CAEL’s annual conference.

On. Feb. 21, Brookings and New America held a webcast during which leaders from three states that span key CAEL partnership regions discussed best practices in scaling earn-and-learn opportunities. Their conversation covered policy efforts, the benefits of exchanging ideas within a community of practice, and the challenges and opportunities ahead.

There is also an urgent need to scale credit for prior learning programs. We know CPL boosts completion, saves students time and money, and benefits institutions (including as a recruiting feature). Unfortunately, we also know that not nearly enough adult learners are accessing CPL opportunities, despite its powerful impact on underserved students. A streamlined platform that collects students’ experiential learning details is an effective way to increase CPL impact. Thomas Edison State University, a longtime leader in CPL, recently implemented Credit Predictor Pro, and myFootpath, which provides adult learner-focused support for postsecondary marketing, enrollment, and retention services, is now partnering with CAEL in support of this CPL technology solution.

Recently, it was my pleasure to join our friends at Acadeum for a discussion about the impact institutions can have on equitable economic mobility by preparing adult learners for success in the workplace. Whether upskilling or reskilling, success at the institutional level depends on innovation and collaboration among educators, trainers, employers, industry groups, and policymakers.

A book that has sparked a lot of conversation here and among our partners is Apprentice Nation: How the "Earn and Learn" Alternative to Higher Education Will Create a Stronger and Fairer America. In a recent conversation about his book, author Ryan Craig challenged institutions to rethink how their academic programs align with the needs of today’s workforce. (As a friendly reminder, I take a “both/and” view of apprenticeships and higher ed. Everyone, including colleges and universities, benefits from the stronger links such programs can create between learning and work.)

Grant opportunity: Round 2 of the Apprenticeship Building America program is open, with applications due by April 15. The grant supports “public and private partnerships designed to serve a range of industries and individuals and promote Registered Apprenticeship Programs.” With $8M available for an initiative, this is an excellent growth strategy for universities and colleges looking to connect to the national movement around apprenticeships as a quality workforce development tool.    

CAEL member mention: In a compelling example of strategic partnerships in action, leaders from the University of the Incarnate Word joined a delegation from the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce on a higher education and workforce advocacy trip to Washington, D.C.

Interested in learning more about CAEL memberships? Please visit us, and always feel free to contact us with questions or comments on any topic at cael@cael.org.

Additional Reading

Every graduate’s career path begins with a single step — and it’s a pivotal one

UNC System adult learner recruiting campaign helps address nursing shortage

Eligible but not entitled: tips for nonprofits seeking government grants

N.M. bills would fund new apprenticeships, provide wraparound support for adult learners

$1.47 million federal grant to energize Philadelphia EV workforce development with pre-apprenticeships

University of Arkansas to apply campus-wide workforce development assessment

Several new SUNY microcredentials, workforce certificates eligible for N.Y. state tuition assistance

Apprenticeship consortium forms to address teacher shortage in southwest Virginia 

St. Louis ‘innovation ecosystem’ thriving thanks to cross-sector collaboration

How Community Colleges are applying NSF EPIIC Funding to meet workforce needs

Postsecondary completion linked to healthier, happier, wealthier individuals and communities

Community colleges take center stage in $4.7 million Boston biotech workforce development grant




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