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CAEL Newsroom

CAEL Announces $1 Million in Grant Funding for Improving Career Pathways to Quality Jobs and Wages


Funding from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation and Strada Education Network to expand education-employer partnerships in Pittsburgh region

INDIANAPOLIS – The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) today announced the award of a two-year, $500,000 general support grant from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation to expand its strategies for aligning learning and work in the Pittsburgh region. The funding, which was matched by Strada Education Network, will directly support CAEL’s mission to engage with educators, employers, and community leaders so that adult learners can achieve the academic and career success necessary for equitable economic growth. 

CAEL will focus grant activity on developing partnerships that expand inclusive work-based learning within industry-recognized degree and non-degree credential programs. This work will help clarify career paths supported by equitable educational opportunities that empower completers with key competencies valued within rewarding occupations. Accordingly, it will feature customized needs analyses and collaboration among education and training providers as well as growth-sector employers. Targeted industries will include financial services, construction, information technology, energy, telecommunications, health professions technology, and healthcare.

The grant will include collaboration with Partner4Work, Vibrant Pittsburgh, and the higher education community in Pittsburgh to develop strategies for forging holistic connections with regional workforce organizations. CAEL will provide technical assistance to postsecondary institutions on work-relevant solutions such as credit for prior learning (CPL). CPL allows institutions and training providers to assess and recognize learning that has occurred outside of the classroom as academic credit. It boosts completion, saves students time and money, and offers great potential for making access to postsecondary pathways more equitable. 

CAEL has also established a dedicated regional office to further support this growing work and partnership development. Located in Pittsburgh’s One Oxford building, the office will spearhead collaboration with local stakeholders to define skill set requirements and ensure education and training options are optimally aligned with quality jobs.

“It’s exciting to think about the incredible opportunities ahead of us in the Pittsburgh region made possible by these new grant funds,” said Earl Buford, president of CAEL, noting that in the Pittsburgh area, more than half of residents 25-64 have an associate degree or higher. “The region has made great progress in helping adults connect with educational opportunities, and, with the generous support of the Henry L. Hillman Foundation and Strada Education Network, we look forward to helping strengthen their ties to competencies critical to the future of evolving growth industries and career success.”

“As our nation and region make progress in educational attainment, we must remain focused on ensuring opportunities are equitable,” said David J. Malone, chairman of Partner4Work. “Within our continually evolving workforce, individual economic opportunity will increasingly depend on postsecondary education. Solving for systemic inequities will require access to quality lifelong learning opportunities.”

“The most effective way to help people out of poverty is to help them get into rewarding career paths,” said Robert Cherry, CEO of Partner4Work. “Not only does that benefit individuals, but it also uplifts their families, their communities, and our entire region.”

“To build an equitable future economy while also addressing today’s urgent workforce needs, we must invest in resources that help people find well-defined career paths where they can acquire in-demand skills,” said David K. Roger, president of the Henry L. Hillman Foundation. “CAEL’s expansion into Pittsburgh is a natural fit, where their resources for adult learners will work in tandem with our region’s rich educational partnerships. Connecting people to fulfilling, lifelong careers that align with their competencies boosts both employee morale and our collective economic success.”

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; and 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 national 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 Henry L. Hillman Foundation

Henry L. Hillman Foundation works to ensure that Pittsburgh’s considerable strengths, assets, and advantages are fully leveraged to make it one of the world’s most innovative and forward-looking cities, building on the late Henry L. Hillman’s legacy for solving big problems through civic leadership and collaboration. Learn more at henrylhillmanfoundation.org.

About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a nonprofit dedicated to helping people take advantage of education and training after high school that helps them secure a good job, do meaningful work, contribute to their communities, and lead a fulfilling life. We believe education and training after high school have the potential to be the most powerful and equitable ways to help all people thrive in their careers and lives. To help students succeed beyond completion of a certificate or degree, we conduct research, make charitable grants and social impact investments, and support Strada Collaborative, which directly serves students and workers. Learn more at stradaeducation.org.