DOL Aims to Open Next Round of TAAACCT Grants in April

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will tweak its application for Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAAACCT) grants to improve some areas in the program, such as communication among consortia members, according to Jane Oates, the department’s assistant secretary for employment and training.

The $2-billion, four-year TAAACCT program funds community colleges that develop job training partnerships with local employers. The department will begin accepting applications for the third round of the grants at the end of April or early May, Oates said during a virtual address at the American Association of Community CollegesWorkforce Development Institute last week. Grant winners will be announced in September.

There might be two time frames, Oates noted, with applications for consortia given a little more time than those from a single college.

Employer commitments

The department has adjusted requirements for the program with each round. After the first round, DOL realized there was a need for more evaluation, so in round two it required third-party evaluations, Oates said.

“This is crucial as a roadmap when you reinvent yourselves in 10 years,” Oates said.

In the second round of grants, the department learned that the idea of capacity building can vary greatly, so more flexibility will now be allowed.

“We don’t think every project should look exactly the same,” Oates said. Online learning, accelerated learning and more compressed schedules are all acceptable. “Not every community college needs to do the same thing,” she said.

Oates added community outreach and return on investment are important, as well as the need to build bridges between credit and non-credit-bearing programs. What’s most crucial, she said, is the need for “real, rigorous, meaningful partnerships with employers.”

Even though employers can’t guarantee jobs, Oates encouraged colleges to try to secure some type of workplace-related activity for students, such as internships and cooperative learning. (Read more.)

Via Ellie Ashford, The Community College Times.

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New Department of Labor Initiative Focuses on Workforce Development

While most of us would not debate the value of a four-year degree, this American dream remains beyond the reach of many as the cost of a college education continues to rise. However, even in 2012, there are many family-sustainable occupations to be had without that sometimes-elusive document.

The U.S. Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Department of Education, has recently awarded 54 grants to 297 schools across the U.S., District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to increase workplace development programs in community colleges around the country, thanks to a provision in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act signed by President Obama in 2010. The initiative—the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) program—awards grants for training programs to enable schools to meet the needs of local industries in an ongoing effort to develop a stronger national workforce.

According to U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, nearly half of all job openings in the next decade will be “middle-skill” jobs, requiring less than a four-year degree, but requiring more than a high school diploma. She sees these grant programs as “tickets to employment.”

In Nebraska, which boasts a 4 percent unemployment rate, the primary problem is the lack of people with industry-required skills. The manufacturing industry is working closely with schools so that training is geared to move the student directly from school to work. Soft skills, such as getting to work on time, are also addressed to make these students “career-ready.”

According to Tony Raimondo, chair of the Nebraska Advanced Manufacturing Coalition, “Over 80 percent of manufacturers report a moderate to serious shortage of skilled talent in the hiring pool.”

Nebraska’s Central Community College is a leader in a consortium in workforce development. There, the DOL grant will help address a state-wide need for manufacturers by allowing the school to offer a manufacturing generalist degree consisting of 12 hours of core requirements. One may choose to continue to get an industry certificate, then go on to a diploma (32 credit hours), then on to a full two-year associate degree. (Read more.)

Via Beatrice Townsend, Diverse Issues in Higher Ed.

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Administration Announces $500 Million in Community College Grants to Expand Job Training

The U.S. Department of Labor this week announced $500 million in community college grants to develop and expand innovative training programs through local employer partnerships. The Labor Department is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.

The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, which is intended to promote skills development and employment opportunities in fields including advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care. All states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico will receive at least $2.5 million in funding for community college career training programs, according to the Labor Department.

The grants are the second installment of a $2 billion, four-year initiative. In total, 297 schools will receive grants as individual applicants or as members of a consortium. The grants include awards to community college and university consortia totaling $359,237,048 and awards to individual institutions totaling $78,262,952.

Learn more about the grant program at

Via Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager, CTE Blog.

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Now Open: Race to the Top District Competition

After revising the proposed criteria announced last May, the U.S. Department of Education released on Friday the finalized application for the Race to the Top District grant competition.

Districts are eligible to apply for the grants, which will provide nearly $400 million to support local reform efforts, if they meet the 2,000 student threshold and implement teacher, principal, and superintendent evaluations by the 2014-2015 school year. Beginning in December, ED expects to award 15 to 25 district grants ranging from $5 million to $40 million. Preference will be offered to applicants that form partnerships with public and private organizations.

The competition will be based on a 200-point grading scale with the following categories:

  • Personalized learning components (40 points)
  • Vision for reform (4o points)
  • Prior academic track record and district transparency (45 points)
  • Continuous improvement (30 points)
  • District policy and infrastructure (25 points)
  • Budget and sustainability (20 points)
Applications are due October 30th.

The finalized application does not include some items proposed earlier this year, such as performance evaluations of school board members, and includes a maximum grant award of $40 million rather than $25 million as written in the initial proposal.

Access the Race to the Top District application here, and learn more on the ED Web site.

Via Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst, CTE Blog.

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U.S. Department of Education Awards More Than $27 Million to School Districts, Community Organizations for Physical Education and Nutrition Education

The U.S. Department of Education today awarded 56 grants totaling $27 million to school districts and community organizations who plan to implement comprehensive physical fitness and nutrition programs for their students through the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP). Since the program began in 2001, the department has awarded more than $620 million in funding to expand and improve physical and nutrition education programs across the country for students in kindergarten through high school.

“Exercise and good nutrition make for happier, healthier, more attentive and more productive students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants will help students strengthen their bodies and in so doing, inspire their minds to confront the challenges that face them both inside the classroom and out.”

Grant recipients must implement programs that help students make progress toward meeting their state standards for physical education. The programs must offer instruction in healthy eating habits and good nutrition. Among the types of activities that the grants support is instruction in motor skills that support a lifelong healthy lifestyle. And, opportunities for professional development for teachers of physical education to stay abreast of the latest research and trends in the field of physical education.

The Office of Safe and Healthy Students, which manages PEP, supports efforts to create safe schools, ensure the health and well-being of students, teach students good citizenship and character, respond to crises, and prevent drug and alcohol abuse. For additional information on the PEP grant program, visit <Read more.>

Via Press Office, U.S. Dept. of Education.

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