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Education Attainment Division

Free E-Newsletters Worth Subscribing To

Michelle Vegliante on Monday, October 17, 2016 at 10:30:00 am 

Ever wonder how ACCE’s Education Attainment Division (EAD) team stays up to date on all things education and workforce development related? We take advantage of the many free e-newsletters available and wanted to share a few of our favorites with you. From equity to fundraising, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a collection of the ones we have found to be most valuable. 

Collective Impact

Collective Impact Forum Newsletters
Content related to collective impact, includes case studies, tools, and resources from Collective Impact Forum / Note: You must make a profile to receive emails.

Economic & Workforce Development

C2ER Weekly
Content related to economic development, workforce, and labor issues, includes resources curated from around the web and programs of the Council for Community & Economic Research (C2ER).

National Skills Coalition Monthly
Content related to workforce, education, and training policies, includes news curated from the web and resources created by the National Skills Coalition.

SSTI Weekly
Content related to economic development through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, includes news curated from around the web and analysis from the State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI).

U.S. Chamber Center for Education and Workforce Monthly
Content related to business engagement in education and workforce development, includes resources created by the U.S. Chamber Foundation.  

Education

Community College Daily or Weekly
Content related to issues and legislation that affect community colleges, includes resources curated from the web and articles written for the American Association of Community Colleges.

Education Dive Daily
Content related to trends and advancements in either the K-12 or higher education industries, includes headlines curated from around the web.

Gallup Newsletter
Content related to research on the U.S. education system, includes original data and research reports from Gallup.  

InsideTrack Innovation Bulletin Weekly 
Content related to innovation in higher education, includes headlines curated from around the web

Lumina Higher Ed News Daily
Content related to higher education attainment, includes news curated from around the web and resources created by Lumina Foundation.

Equity & Youth

America’s Promise Alliance Weekly
Content related to issues affecting the successful education path of young people, includes resources curated from around the web and a list of funding opportunities.

CLASP Newsletters
Content related to economic and workforce policies that affect low income people, includes analysis and resources from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

Philanthropy and Fundraising

Inside Philanthropy Daily
Content related to fundraising strategies, includes insights into funder mindsets and fundraising tips.

Philanthropy News Digest RFP Alerts Daily
A daily roundup of recently announced requests for proposals from private, corporate, and government funding sources / Note: Creating an account allows you to filter your RFP preferences.

Philanthropy News Digest RFP Bulletin Weekly
A weekly roundup of recently announced requests for proposals from private, corporate, and government funding sources

Policy

Federal Flash
Five-minute (or less) video series on important developments in education policy from the Alliance for Excellent Education.

Pew State Line Daily or Weekly
Content related to trends in state policy, includes news curated from around the web and policy analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Workplace/HR

HR Daily
Content related to workforce and workplace trends and practices, includes analysis and news from the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM).

 

Do you know of any e-newsletters to add? Email mvegliante@acce.org with your suggestion and it will be added to this list. 

Tags: Policy, Workforce Development, Economic Development, education, Education Attainment, Grant research, Grants

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Three health and wellness strategies your education and workforce agenda may be missing

Analidia Blakely on Friday, February 12, 2016 at 6:00:00 am 

What’s missing?

As education and workforce development (EDWD) organizations are wrapping up annual strategic planning processes for 2016, many are still looking back on their plans wondering what is missing. Seasoned EDWD professionals know all too well that there is no silver bullet when it comes to improving education attainment and developing a talented and competitive workforce, and that various factors affect the talent pipeline; yet, the question of what will most significantly accelerate their organization’s annual goals will hover over their minds throughout the year.

So what could be missing—even from best practice models like cradle-to-career collective impact initiatives, which build cross-sectors partnerships to improve student outcomes? Chances are that what is missing is a comprehensive and well-balanced health and wellness agenda. At ACCE, we see a growing number of chambers of commerce that are championing health and wellness initiatives in their community, understanding that efforts to improve the talent pipeline work hand in hand with improving health.

What’s the connection?

You may be wondering just how critical a health and wellness action plan is to improving education attainment and workforce outcomes, and the correlation between the two is stronger than most of us realize. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that losses in productivity due to worker illness and injury costs U.S. Employers $225.8 billion annually, equal to $1,685 per employee, enough to significantly impact a business’s bottom line. One study, conducted by the nonprofit Health Enhancement Research Organization, even suggests that best-practice workplace wellness practices are linked to better corporate performance (read more at SHRM.org). These findings help us to understand how deeply health affects our workforce.

What is also interesting is that, on the flip side, EDWD significantly impacts health outcomes. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation created an excellent Better Education = Healthier Lives infographic, which demonstrates how an individual’s health is greatly shaped by their socioeconomic factors, such as education and income. It states that “Each additional year of schooling represents an 11% increase income. High earnings increase access to healthier food and safer homes, and can even lower uncertainty and stress.”

Recognizing that you cannot advance one agenda without the other, ACCE has identified the following three opportunities for chambers of commerce to incorporate health and wellness strategies into their EDWD efforts.

  1. Ensuring Children Are Ready to Learn: Chambers of commerce are uniquely poised to work with key education stakeholders and community service providers to ensure that young children receive the quality education and wellness care they need to be healthy and ready to learn by the time they reach kindergarten. By focusing on a community’s youngest residents, a chamber can not only ensure children are set on a positive trajectory to succeed in school and career, but also instill effective wellness habits that will shape their future health—and as an added bonus, help develop a talented and productive workforce capable of competing in the 21st century global market.
  2. Promoting Workplace Wellness: With direct access to the business community, chambers of commerce can provide employers with the support and guidance needed to implement innovative and effective programs and workplace policies that encourage employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. The benefits of workplace wellness programs far outweigh their cost, and more and more employers are finding that, in addition to helping employees adopt healthy work-life habits, these programs produce more productive employees, help attract and retain talent, build staff morale, combat employee absenteeism, minimize staff turnover and reduce healthcare costs for employers.
  3. Building a Healthy Community Culture: Chambers of commerce already champion opportunities to raise the quality of life for their residents, knowing their members will prosper as a result. These organizations—which typically represent diverse sectors of the community, including business, non-profit, education, and health and government entities—can offer opportunities for their members to participant in events and/or councils that are focused on improving community health. Strong community health can be the tipping point towards economic vitality and equitable prosperity, fulfilling a chamber’s vision for its community.

Where to start?

For ACCE members looking to develop or expand an education and workforce development agenda that is inclusive of health and wellness, ACCE’s Education Attainment Division has pulled together excellent examples of chamber-led health and wellness initiatives and created a series of communication briefs, which are available on the division’s Workforce Wellness and Community Health Chamberpedia page. The division will be also be providing on-going technical assistance throughout the year and developing additional resources with an expanded online library of health and wellness resources to come this spring, as well as in-person support and education-and-workforce-development-related sessions at ACCE’s 2016 Annual Convention August 9-12 in Savannah, GA.

To learn more about these resources or to share how your organization is championing health and wellness, please contact Analidia Blakely, Education Attainment Division Manager, via email at ablakely@acce.org.

 

Tags: Children's Health, Community Health, Education Attainment, Workforce Development, Workforce Wellness

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Developing Talent in Sarasota

Jessie Azrilian on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 12:00:00 am 

As a pillar of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s Sarasota Tomorrow Economic Development Initiative, the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership is using a collective impact strategy to secure 30,000 new degrees by 2020. The Partnership is creating a comprehensive career pathways system, at both the high school and post-secondary level, which enhances area students’ opportunities for career exploration, skills development and placement in high-demand, high-wage careers.  As a new Partnership, Talent4Tomorrow is focused on building operational support, research, data, communication efforts and incorporating assessments.

Interview Participant: Steve Queior, CCE, President & CEO, Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

Awardee Spotlight

Q: How did your community begin to focus on Education Attainment and Workforce Development?

Throughout the recession, our region experienced several rounds of painful job cuts, yet we saw employers struggling to fill open jobs due to a lack of talent. We started to feel the pain of this skills gap in our community and began to look at what chambers in other communities around the country were doing to address their workforce issues. Over a period of two years, our Chamber connected with national groups like the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, and learned how communities were rallying together through strategic coalitions. We knew we needed to do the same in the Greater Sarasota Area.

Q: What were the most important factors that helped spur the chamber’s efforts to strategically address local workforce issues?

The most important factors involved having the right people at the table. In addition to private sector employers, our Chamber’s board consists of the school superintendent, leaders from both city and county government, and four college presidents. During our board meetings and retreats, we have the necessary stakeholders listening to employers saying ‘hey, I read about the high unemployment rate; yet I can’t get a precision machinist at my specialty manufacturing facility;’ or ‘I can’t find skilled healthcare workers or construction workers.’ We were able to aggregate these conversations to find that it came down to four industry classifications that were the most in-need of workers. From there, we focused on a dual strategy to re-train unemployed individuals while also developing a long-term career awareness and career pathways strategy for our young people. The next factor was key community organizations- such as the community foundation and Career Edge, a group specializing in adult training and retraining- stepping up to provide funding and operational support.

Q: What are other efforts related to education and workforce development that your chamber leads?

There are four chamber-led boots-on-the-ground efforts:

Internship Database: A portal on the chamber’s website provides a space for employers to post searchable available internship opportunities for students; then we facilitate matches between the two. With support from ACCE’s Lumina Award for Education Attainment, we plan to reengineer this portal to include resources such as a “how to” workshop for employers who have not traditionally utilized interns; and a database with information on internship providers and success rates (i.e. how many of the students who get an internship go onto the next step in their schooling, what impact these internships have on graduation rates and what students go on to do in their careers).

Career Exploration: After eight months of research leading up to the launch of Talent4Tomorrow, we realized a major weakness in our community was that students lacked awareness about potential careers and how to prepare for those careers. Our partners are working on piloting a 6-week “Summer Bridge” program with Road Trip Nation, a group that creates innovative career exploration experiences and resources. Through the program, students receive scholarships covering tuition, books, etc. and complete up to six college credits by taking two courses- including “Student Life Skills,” which is a project-based curriculum developed by Road Trip Nation.  

The Chamber is launching a Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) for the Central West Coast of Florida in Fall 2015. During the twenty-one week program, middle and high school students will go on company tours, build a business plan, and launch a legally operating business. Business professionals will serve as mentors and speakers. The program has had great success in other cities, and statistics show that students that go through the YEA program progress in school, earn degrees and pursue productive careers. 

Addressing the Skills Gaps: After a labor survey conducted last year revealed a critical skills gap, a coalition of community stakeholders created a curriculum called Precision Machining. The Sarasota County Technical Institute provided the space; local counties donated a third of a million dollars for equipment; and local companies lined up to hire individuals who finished the course. Our manufacturing action team is currently working to bring the Manufacturing Skills Standards Certification into area high schools and has developed a community-wide career awareness campaign for high-demand careers in this industry.

Q: Best practices or lessons-learned to share with other chambers working on education reform?

The Chamber conducted an asset map to assess education needs in our community and get a sense of which organization was doing what. We found that efforts related to early childhood education, as well as those addressing adult workforce training and re-training, were strong.  But efforts to ensure middle and high school students were on a path to college needed to be strengthened. Right now the average age that a young person returns to college after entering the workforce directly after high school is 28. This information gave our chamber a focus moving forward.

**More lessons and insights from the 2014-15 ACCE Lumina Award Winners will be available in the upcoming Fall edition of ACCE's Chamber Executive Magazine

 

 

Tags: Workforce Development, education, Goal 2025, higher education, Lumina, talent

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Creating an Information Systems and Technology Education Pipeline

Analidia Ruiz on Wednesday, June 24, 2015 at 12:00:00 am 

The Greater Omaha Chamber is committed to implementing cradle-to-career strategies that strengthen the talent development pipeline for the region’s highest-need industry sectors. Working with key partners from K-12 and higher education institutions, and their Workforce Investment Board, the Chamber is identifying opportunities to build strong curriculum and programs that support their IT sector, and promote available IT-related education and career opportunities.

Interview Participants: Sarah Moylan, Director, Talent and Workforce

Awardee Spotlight

Q: Can you provide some background on how your community began to focus on education attainment and workforce development?

A: The story begins about 5 years ago when the Greater Omaha Chamber received a grant from National Fund for Workforce Solutions. During that time, the state controlled the Workforce Investment Board (WIB), and a lot of decisions weren’t being made from a local perspective. We really wanted to get back to a place where we were directly dealing with the challenges and opportunities that existed in the community. Support from the National Fund enabled us to leverage technical expertise, build capacity within our staff and community partners, and learn from best practices and models other states had utilized in working with their WIBs. Over the next few years, the Chamber worked directly with community partners to create a new non-profit organization outside of the Chamber called Heartland Workforce Solutions. Because of the structure and sustainable system plan put in place through this organization, it eventually regained control of the WIB from the state. From there, we built the American Job Center, a new workforce center serving the region under the banner of Heartland Workforce Solutions. The center houses 15 workforce system partner organizations that provide training and education services. Having these partners and agencies under one roof really streamlines efforts and improves collaboration and communication.

Q: Today, what would you say that your chamber’s most important role is within this body of work?

A: Our main focus is to grow the economy in the Greater Omaha region to help bring prosperity to the people living in our area. To do this strategically, the Chamber has been a leader in convening stakeholders around jobs, labor, and workforce data. Data has been one of the biggest factors driving the decisions and actions of both the Chamber and Heartland Workforce Solutions. We lead with data, and in regards to educational attainment, use data as a platform to help people understand their role in driving change and improving outcomes.  

The role we play as a convener brings groups to the table that would benefit from working together to help build a better education system. Within education there are also lot of partners, such as direct service providers, working with students or adults outside of traditional institutions. Our role has been to solidify a system that’s working together—bringing philanthropy, education, government and private business to the table—to help strengthen the education pipeline.

Q: Can you tell me about your chamber's overall education and workforce development portfolio of work?

A; The chamber is leading a three-pronged strategy to build a cohesive cradle-to-career system, ensuring systems and partners are in alignment from preschool to workforce development.

The first leg of the strategy uses data to realign talent development along the P-16 pipeline in alignment with workforce needs. We convene partners to provide data on where the jobs are and what skills they require, and then work on how to realign programs, such as those focused on Information Technology and STEM, to meet those industry needs. An analysis we conducted of workforce needs for our region showed that our talent supply was not meeting industry demand, specifically in areas of IT and engineering. We had a huge demand for that type of talent, but our post-secondary completion rates in those fields were falling way behind the curve. For example, last year we surveyed 156 companies that are looking to hire over 1400 IT professionals over the next 2 years; and the number of students graduating college with those skills is nowhere near that number. The issue wasn’t that students weren’t graduating, but it was that not enough students were getting into the programs that match workforce needs. Therefore, we looked deeply into the kind of career awareness and exposure students get at a very young age that could lead them into post-secondary STEM focused programs, such as IT.

The second leg of our strategy is to grow and retain talent through career awareness programs and marketing strategies focused on engaging individuals at a young age. The ACCE Lumina Education Attainment Award is helping us expand a career awareness campaign that exposes youth to IT and other STEM careers. Marketing and promotion taking place within the schools helps shift student perceptions about IT careers and directs them to outside opportunities to work alongside IT professionals—such as camps, internships and mentorships. We also host Teacher Internships to build career awareness among students. Forty educators work with twenty participating employers over the course of a week to learn about STEM and IT careers and the kinds of skills needed to land those jobs. (See program video here.) Participating teachers are paid for their time and are required to submit new lesson plans that incorporates what they learned from their internship into their curriculum.  

The third leg of our strategy is to take on an advocacy and public policy role that drives decision-making at the local level. We were at the table advocating for new leadership within our public school system by: 1) recruiting candidates from the community to run for school board positions; and 2) serving on the selection committee for the public school superintendent. We also recently completed a bond proposal for supporting public schools, which our chamber’s board supported and helped pass locally.

Q: What best practices and/or lessons learned can you share with other chamber professionals working on education reform?

A: Having data to drive your strategies and decisions is huge. It changed the way in which we operated and gave us information that everyone could convene around, understand and utilize. Then, it’s important to understand that the power of convening partners around a common issue and finding opportunities to collaborate is far more beneficial and influential than one could possibly realize. Also, quality relationships take time to build and they require maintenance, but they’re huge for our work! Making relationships a focus of your work and being that convener that brings people together is crucial. Lastly, it’s important to respect different perspectives and what everyone brings to the table. Often when trying to influence or advance an education and workforce development issue, stakeholders will have different experiences that represent all sides and shapes of an issue. Many of us are not educators, yet we’re trying to influence what happens in education, so respect is essential when working collaboratively.

For additional chamber-led post-secondary best practices and resources, visit the Higher Education Chamberpedia page
Want to learn more? Contact aruiz@acce.org

Tags: education, higher education, Lumina, Workforce Development

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Partnerships Achieving Bold Goals in Cincinnati

Analidia Ruiz on Monday, June 1, 2015 at 8:00:00 am 

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, among the nation's oldest and largest chambers, is working with the regional United Way to achieve a set of Bold Goals for the community by 2020. With United Way-funded Partners for a Competitive Workforce, the Chamber is helping to develop career pathways to ensure individuals gain the higher skills needed to meet employer demands.

Interview Participants:

  • Mary Stagaman, Executive Director of Agenda 360 and Vice President for Regional Initiatives, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
  • Janice Urbanik, Executive Director, Partners for a Competitive Workforce

Awardee Spotlight

Q: Can you provide some background on how your community began to focus on education attainment and workforce development?

A: (Janice) In 2001 our region was marked by a time of civil unrest, exacerbated by a lack of employment opportunities for many individuals in our community. Between 2001 and 2008 many regional initiatives sprouted to address the employment issue—some saw success and some did not. During this time, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions was getting ready to expand their funding to new sites across the nation. Community stakeholders saw this opportunity as a systemic approach to addressing skills gap issues that had been lingering in the community for a long time and formed a public-private partnership to apply for those funds. We launched the Greater Cincinnati Workforce Network at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and then in 2011 moved the network to the United Way of Greater Cincinnati for the long-term.  Shortly after, we rebranded and reframed our work as Partners for a Competitive Workforce—an umbrella organization that brings together the region’s workforce efforts and aligns them towards a shared mission.

While this work started because of disparities in the community, we were also consistently hearing from employers who had many open positions but could not find people with the right skills to fill them. Feedback from employers as well as residents in the community became the impetus behind the workforce development focus.

Q: How did your chamber become involved?

A: (Mary) The Chamber was at the table for all the discussions that led up to the creation of the original network. We were deeply engaged in a mayoral initiative at the time called Go Cincinnati (an economic development program to create jobs and grow the local tax base) to create a more strategic approach to workforce development. Since then, we have closely aligned to the work of Partners for a Competitive Workforce (PCW) and their network of intermediaries so that we can continue to get people into the labor force and into sustainable employment. Chamber leadership serves on the Advisory Council for PCW. We also created a talent pipeline manager position to ensure there was alignment with the work PCW is doing in the K-12 system. This helps eliminate the possibility for disconnects at some critical points along the career pathway.  

Q: Can you tell me about your chamber's overall education attainment and workforce development portfolio?

A: (Mary) It is important to note that we are unlike some of the other chambers in this cohort that received support through ACCE’s Lumina Award for Education Attainment. Essentially, our Chamber outsources workforce development; we rely heavily on organizations like PCW to lead the way rather than duplicate their efforts within the Chamber’s operations. We are partners not only in name; we are deeply invested in the work that they do. Furthermore, because we support the Strive Partnership and other members of a cohort using collective impact as a framework for change, it is inherent that we align the work of many organizations—including our colleges, universities and other community partners—to make sure that together we are consistently moving the needle on education attainment.

As a region, we track at about 30 percent bachelor’s degree attainment overall, which is on par with the nation as a whole. However, we know all too well that 30 percent is insufficient for us to remain economically competitive over time. So, we think it is critical to build awareness of the work that needs to be done to increase education attainment.

One specific area of concern is our African American population, for which the bachelor’s degree attainment rate is 15 percent. This is a compelling example of untapped potential in our region that we believe could be developed, grown and leveraged more effectively in a generation or two if we work to help people become more successful—starting with being prepared for kindergarten. 

A: (Janice) The Chamber is deeply involved in a number of community initiatives, and we have a tremendous network of partners all of whom work very closely through the collective impact approach.

In workforce development, we want to increase the number of training programs, workforce readiness programs, etc. to help people achieve gainful employment. Our goal is to move the percentage of individuals gainfully employed from the current 88 percent to 90 percent. You might think that’s only two percentage points, and that’s not much; but that represents 24,000 people, which is going to be a big lift in our community. We strive to work in conjunction with high-need neighborhoods to leverage their assets in order to lift them up commensurate with the goals they have for their communities. We are trying to be very strategic in applying key place-based strategies as well as multi-generational approaches.

Several of the chamber's initiatives have built strong momentum for its goals, including: the Chamber’s regional action plan, Agenda 360 and; the region’s 2020 Jobs Outlook, a shared report that forecasts future workforce opportunities to help guide curriculum and workforce preparation.

Q: How does your chamber and its partners measure/benchmark success?

A: (Mary) Since we are a tri-state region, we measure our topline success across three states: Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. It’s a very complex political landscape that comprises 15 counties and more than 300 jurisdictions. With partners in Northern Kentucky, we started a project five years ago called Regional Indicators, which has become a brand under which we have issued a number of reports. The baseline Regional Indicators Report evaluates the status of the Cincinnati region on 15 key indicators of economic health, which are drawn from consistent and credible sources like the Census, the American Community Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What makes the data particularly valuable is not only seeing how Cincinnati is performing on its own, but how its performance compares against a peer set of 11 other regions that it competes with for people and jobs. We were considered pretty brave when we released the first report in 2010 because Cincinnati was ranked at 10 out of 12 regions at the time. After five years, we have moved up one position in the ranking to 9 out of 12, and have seen considerable improvement in a couple of indicators including knowledge jobs; we are excited about that. The Regional Indicators report has created a really valuable community conversation about how we are stacking up as a region. It creates a sense of urgency to move the needle on the indicators that top-performing regions have in common. One of those is educational attainment.

Q: How are your education and workforce development initiatives funded?

A: (Janice) Our programs are funded by a number of organizations interested in workforce development. The bulk of our operational expenses are covered by funds that are granted to us through the United Way, which is our managing organization, but also from the community foundation and some other private foundations in our region. We get funds to cover programmatic expenses through grants from foundations like Lumina Foundation or from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, which has a Social Innovation Fund grant. We also regularly apply for Department of Labor grants and funds from other local and national funders.

Q: What best practices and/or lessons learned can you share with other chamber professionals working on education reform?

A: (Mary)  The use of consistent, credible data is critical to both knowing if you are making a difference, but also to telling a story in a way that resonates and builds buy-in from different stakeholders. There are certainly qualitative measures of improvement that we want to continue to track, but the more that you can translate the qualitative into the quantitative, the better it tracks especially with the business community—in demonstrating the return on investment for different programs. I think that demonstrating this clearly as you make continuing investments into new programs or new initiatives is critical to getting continued funding and wide-spread community support. Underscoring both the mission (i.e. what we’re trying to achieve) and really good metrics is critical to success.

 For additional chamber-led post-secondary best practices and resources, visit the Higher Education Chamberpedia page
Want to learn more? Contact aruiz@acce.org

 

Tags: education, higher education, Lumina, Workforce Development

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Bridging the Skills Gap in Greensboro

Jessie Azrilian on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 12:00:00 am 

The Greensboro (NC) Chamber of Commerce has a big goal to raise higher education attainment in Guilford County to 51% by 2025. As part of this effort, they are focusing on adult college completion, with the goal of ensuring at least 1,500 adults return to school, of which 1,000 complete their degree by 2016. In 2014, the Chamber received a Lumina Education Attainment Award for their efforts to close the skills gap in their community through connecting students to aviation-related manufacturing and STEM skills.

Interview participant:

  • Deborah Hooper, President, Greensboro (NC) Chamber of Commerce

Awardee Spotlight

Q: Can you provide some background on how your community began to focus on education attainment and workforce development?

A: 
Employer surveys were revealing a critical skills gap in Greensboro. Local companies saying they were unable to find a workforce qualified to fill available positions juxtaposed with a high unemployment rate. The local United Way and The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro convened key stakeholders to form the Greensboro Works Task Force (Task Force).  The Task Force addressed the intersection of workforce development, family economic success, and degree and credential attainment.  After researching potential solutions, the Task Force recommended three programs:

  • Degrees Matter!: this is a shared partnership between The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Opportunity Greensboro and The United Way of Greater Greensboro whose mission is to increase the number of adults with college degrees in Greater Greensboro/High Point by engaging, connecting and supporting the 67,000+ residents who have been to college but not finished a degree.
  • National Fund for Workforce Solutions: Greensboro has been pursuing an invitation to become an official site for this unprecedented initiative of national and local funder collaboratives targeting career advancement for workers and a more skilled and stable workforce for employers. The fund provides matching dollars and technical assistance in 32 sites nationwide.  A local funders collaborative matches national funds that are re-granted to local sector-based Workforce Partnerships.
  • Family Economic Success (FES) Assessment: this is led by the local United Way. The Aspen Institute and Annie E. Casey Foundation have created frameworks that are helping communities across the country assess strengths, challenges, gaps and opportunities in the economic success of families. This assessment tool gives particular attention to improving job opportunities and building assets for families.

Q: How did your chamber become involved? 

A: The Chamber got the ball rolling in 2012 because they kept hearing that there were 1,000 “difficult to fill” jobs due to employers not finding qualified workers. That data was never sourced, and no one knew where it was coming from. The Chamber approached the local HR Management Association and Workforce Development Board to collaborate on an employer survey to assess this statistic. The problem was worse than expected: rather than 1,000 “difficult to fill” positions, the survey revealed that the actual number was 1,775 for the 136 companies that responded. The survey also revealed a critical need in the Aviation industry and Aviation-related manufacturing for workers with STEM skills.

Q: How does your chamber measure/benchmark success?

A: One goal we benchmark is raising post-secondary education attainment in Guilford County to 51% by 2025. Part of this goal is adult college completion, ensuring at least 1,500 adults to return to school, of which 1,000 complete their degree by 2016.

The chamber also regularly conducts workforce surveys in order to strengthen the workforce pipeline and continue reducing the number of “difficult to fill” jobs.

Q: How are your education/workforce development initiatives funded?

A: 
The chamber’s efforts are funded by business members through our annual fundraising campaign. The Chamber has also collaborated on a marketing initiative called Aviation Triad that is funded by six community colleges, three cities, three aerospace employers, a foundation, and the airport authority.  Aviation Triad is now in its second year raising the number of qualified applicants for available aviation jobs. The annual fundraising goal to support the Aviation Triad work is $200,000. The Chamber plans to expand the initiative through additional partnerships to reconnect the untapped talent of returning military personnel to aviation jobs. 

Q: What best practices and/or lessons learned can you share with other chamber professionals working on education reform?

A: There are many facets of education reform and workforce development.  We had to figure out which one(s), if resolved, would have the greatest impact on student success and workforce/talent development.  Best practices learned include: (1) doing the necessary groundwork to develop a coalition and collaborative environment between key stakeholders that will minimize destructive politics and help keep everyone focused on staying the course to achieve the desired results; and (2) keeping everyone informed and celebrating the progress made toward desired results so that they stay engaged.

Is your chamber leading efforts to increase the proportion of people in your community with degrees and high-equality credentials? Find out more about the Lumina Education Attainment Award program, and see if your chamber is eligible! Applications are due Friday, May 22.

Tags: postsecondary, Workforce Development, Economic Development, education, Goal 2025, higher education, Lumina

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Creating Career Pathways in Aurora

Jessie Azrilian on Monday, May 4, 2015 at 3:00:00 pm 

Chambers Mobilizing Towards a "Big Goal"

Situated 35 miles west of Chicago, the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce serves as a catalyst for business development for the second largest community in the State of Illinois. In 2014, the Chamber received a Lumina Education Attainment Award to strengthen Pathways to Prosperity, a regional collective impact effort, which is developing career pathways in information technology, health sciences and advanced manufacturing. The Chamber and community partners are working to align existing programs with current and future business needs, and to ensure the initial pathways include opportunities for internships, dual credit and stackable credentials. 

Interview participant: 

  • Joseph Henning, President & CEO 

Awardee Spotlight

 Q: Can you provide some background on how your community began to focus on education attainment and workforce development?

 A: For more than 25 years the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce convened a business-education partnership group – which placed business-member volunteers in individual schools and even individual classrooms – but objectives were fragmented. The Pathways to Prosperity program was recognized within the state for a number of initiatives we were doing within the schools, but it just wasn’t enough considering what we were hearing from employers in Aurora about workforce needs and industry-specific skills gaps. We realized we needed to refocus our efforts and move into that new, collaborative arena.

 This is my 10th year at the Chamber, and education and workforce development has been a continuous conversation over the past decade. Employers were demanding a more skilled workforce and kept asking what the Chamber could do. What our employers realized is that the skills gap issue is not something you can tackle on your own, and as much as we tried pushing the needle on our end, we too realized that we just couldn’t do it alone. We were fortunate that the last couple of years everyone got to the same point and came to the table. Six months ago we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Aurora, the community college, and four local school districts. With that MOU, we now have an official partnership and each entity can now hold each other accountable.

 Q: You were awarded ACCE’s Lumina Education Attainment Award to support your chamber’s involvement in the Pathways to Prosperity program. Can you tell me about the program’s origins and your chamber’s specific role in its implementation?

A: Around the same time our initial education-focused conversations started, the West Aurora School District was interested in Pathways to Prosperity, a nationwide project of 10 states created by Harvard University and Jobs for the Future. We joined them at the start to provide insight into the skills needs of area employers. We did an asset map, and through that process we identified three industries to address through the pathways program: IT, health sciences, and advanced manufacturing. We went from being a partner at the table, assisting in the development of the asset map, to taking on a leadership role. Today, we are coordinating some of the pathway deliverables and processes while also ensuring all partners are focused on the same mission.

Pathways to Prosperity focuses on creating pathways of career exploration, awareness and development for students in grades 9-14. The goal is to link high schools, community colleges and employers to increase the number of youth who complete high school and attain a postsecondary credential with labor market value. For example, if students are interested in the IT sector, we have designed a curriculum that exposes them to the different careers they can have within that sector, and the education path and certifications needed to get those careers. Once they graduate high school they may have earned dual credit with the local community college, industry certifications, and/or stackable credentials. The stackable credential piece is key and will allow students to build upon a certification received in school. We just had our very first student in the IT Pathway pass the Microsoft Certification Exam, which was our first win within that specific certification process.  Another example of success is that students within our Health Sciences Pathway graduate prepped for CNA Certification. After graduation, they can build on that to earn a RN Certification. Essentially, we are designing these pathways and credentials in a way that teaches students to understand the value of adding education and certifications to their portfolio after graduation.

Q: Tell me about your chamber's overall education/workforce development portfolio.

A: Our whole portfolio of work is really about a collaborative effort. We have a long history of working with many community partners - including our educational institutions, our workforce investment board and Pathways to Prosperity partners to name a few.

In some cases, our work involves advocacy. For example, we recently used the legislative process for approval of a STEM Academy for grades 3-8. We had to get new legislation passed for the academy because there was nothing currently on the books in Springfield to support it. The STEM Academy is in partnership with our local university and is offered to three partner school districts in our area. The STEM Academy sits on the university campus, which is unique because students are exposed to the college-campus experience, and the Academy’s educators are able to get a graduate level education. Academy faculty come from the three partner schools, and while they are teaching at the STEM Academy, they are able to take courses in specific subject areas. Once they have completed their teaching assignment, they go back to their home school district and become leaders in schools in helping develop curriculum and professional development supports for faculty. It is a very unique program, and there are a number of businesses involved in creating that STEM curriculum.

 We also partner with our local Workforce Investment Board to implement an advanced manufacturing internship program.  We worked with a number of our manufacturers to provide hands-on experience and class time to students so they get a better understanding of what manufacturing is – including everything from global manufacturing facilities to small, local shops. Part of that classroom component requires students to complete OSHA training and receive their OSHA certification through that process. This gives them one certification to add to their portfolio, which is the whole idea behind all of this. We are encouraging stackable credentials and certifications for students to build upon.

Q: How are your education and workforce development initiatives funded?

A: We are fortunate to be a recipient of ACCE’s Lumina Education Attainment Award, which has significantly helped us support our partnerships and corresponding efforts. Currently, the entities sitting at the leadership table are contributing to the success of our work. The City of Aurora has provided funding towards our education attainment programs. The school districts are providing in-kind resources, such as senior leadership staff time and expertise and professional development opportunities for their educators.

We also currently have support from employers with curriculum development and internships, but we’re taking steps be able to go to them for financial support by getting the pieces together to show the successes of our programs.

Q: This is obviously a large investment in terms of resources and staff capacity. How do you make it work from an organizational standpoint?

A: In terms of capacity, we are very limited in our staff resources, with two full-time and two part-time staff members. The two part-time staff members are very specific to operations, and the two full-time staff include a membership director and myself. So it is a bit of a juggle. This is a passion of mine, continuing education and workforce development, so it’s really one of those responsibilities that I have happily added. We are also fortunate to have a consultant who is helping us with some of the research agenda and follow-up from meetings, etc. It is a huge time commitment, but in my opinion, it will pay off in the future. Sometimes, work is even accomplished through our volunteers. We’ve got a great set of business leaders who are really involved in either developing curriculum or providing internships. Once we start seeing more outcomes, we can explore a couple different options, including adding a workforce development position to the team here, or it might be appropriate to create a foundation and house that staff within it.

Q: What best practices and/or lessons learned can you share with other chamber professionals working on education reform?

A: We hear it a lot, but success doesn’t happen overnight. I hate to be cliché driven, but once you fall, you’ve got to get back up. This has been something I have been working toward for 10 years now, and sometimes, you just have to have everything in alignment to be successful.

We are fortunate to have a great collaborative relationship with the city, the community college and our local school districts. You have got to rely on that collaborative piece, especially when you are a chamber with limited staff capacity. There is nothing that we do that is 100% driven by the chamber, whether its programs, events, or advocacy.                           

The key strength that a chamber brings is that we are the conduit for the business community and education. Sometimes you have to build that trust. Traditionally, business and education have not been the best of partners – there are often philosophical differences– and I think at times you just have to listen to what the needs are from both sides of the table.

Also, celebrate the small steps. Like I said before, we had one student pass the Microsoft Certification Exam – which is a small step for us, but we are very excited. Another small win is that we will begin next school year with three pathways in each of our seven participating high schools. Based on registrations for that academic year, we have realized a 25 percent increase in enrollments in Pathways-specific courses. Long-term goals such as moving that graduation needle may take 12 years to see a significant change, and nobody is going to wait around that long! Celebrate those small steps because that is how you win the race.

 

Tags: postsecondary, Workforce Development, Economic Development, education, Goal 2025, higher education, Lumina

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Helping Health Care Workers Move Up the Career Ladder

Jessie Azrilian on Monday, April 13, 2015 at 2:00:00 pm 

Chambers Mobilizing Towards a "Big Goal" 

Metro South Chamber of Commerce received a 2014-15 Lumina Education Attainment Award for leading Careers in Health, a program targeting entry and advanced level healthcare employees who seek career advancement but require higher education, certification or licensure. To help meet the needs of the region’s top industry, the program works in partnership with several healthcare employers and four institutions of higher education, offering courses to more than 205 incumbent healthcare workers pursuing career growth opportunities. 

The Metro South Chamber serves one of Massachusetts’ fastest growing regions, consisting of eighteen communities south of Boston. The 101-year old chamber, located in the city of Brockton, has been a longtime champion of workforce development. As part of the Goal 2025 Blog Series, EAD staff interviewed Metro South's leaders who provided insights into the chamber’s history strengthening the local talent pipeline.

Interview participants: 

  • Christopher Cooney, President & CEO
  • Alison Van Dam, Vice President of Marketing, Communication & Business Development
  • Christine Karavites, Senior Consultant

Awardee Spotlight

Q: What led your chamber to focus on education attainment and workforce development?

Metro South: This is the Metro South Chamber’s 101st anniversary, and it has a long history of engaging in education and workforce development issues. Several community development initiatives originated within the chamber and grew into their own community support entities.  The Brockton Area Multi-Services Agency and Brockton 21st Century Corporation both started as chamber committees, convening stakeholders and developing workforce development strategies.

Q: You were awarded ACCE’s Lumina Education Attainment award to support your chamber’s Careers in Health program, which helps incumbent healthcare workers pursue degrees, certificates and licenses. Can you tell me about the program’s origins and the chamber’s specific role in its implementation?

Metro South: Healthcare is the region’s largest industry sector and economic driver. The Chamber had previously seen success with smaller workforce/occupational grants we’d received from state agencies ($15-35k). Two years ago the state announced that business associations were eligible for $250k Workforce Training Fund consortium grants which go to companies training employees in job-related skills through a program designed by the company. Our's was the first chamber in the state to receive this type of grant which enabled us to allocate funds to several businesses within an industry sector for employee-training activities. The healthcare sector was the obvious choice. 

Chamber staff coordinates the entire program, which targets entry and advanced level health care employees who seek career and workplace advancement but require higher education, certification, or licensure. The Chamber contracts with area colleges to develop curriculum and conduct the training. As part of the program, the Chamber's grant funds pay for the cost of employees' tuition and training with a matching contribution from employers to cover employees’ salaries while they receive training. The Chamber reaches out to healthcare employers from area hospitals and nursing homes to garner buy-in and articulate the need and value of the program as far as reducing turnover costs and increasing the supply of skilled workers to meet their industry’s need.

Q: This is just one program in your Chamber’s education/workforce portfolio, and it’s obvious that significant resources were invested - What were the resources, and how do you justify the investment from an organizational standpoint?

Metro South: The state allows the grantee to retain 10% overhead, but that doesn’t begin to cover the significant staff time and funding required to run the program. This program is only a small portion of our education and workforce development portfolio, with everything done through existing staff capacity (six full-time employees and 2 part-time employees).

However, the Chamber views this as a win-win-win.

The Chamber wins from a goal/mission-achievement standpoint. Workforce development, increasing educational levels, and serving the local healthcare industry are part of the Chamber’s economic development strategy to foster job creation and retention.

The colleges and businesses that participate in the program are chamber members. The colleges increase enrollment and receive funds from tuition fees. Employers benefit from more proficient employees and lower turnover rates.

Healthcare employees, the majority of whom are single mothers, receive training and degrees/credentials such as a Bachelors in Science Nursing or a Nursing Assistant Certification (CNA), helping them move up the career ladder and earn higher wages.

Q: Chambers are often challenged to sustain their education/workforce development work. Can you elaborate on how you've maintained and grown the the work started by the workforce training fund grant?

Metro South: Most of the hospitals and training facilities that have partnered with us are eligible to apply for their own state workforce training grants to continue the work. Now that employers have seen the benefits of participating in the program, we plan to expand the initiative by: 1) working with partnering companies to help them apply for their own workforce training funds; and 2) providing group training for healthcare employers on how to engage students in health careers and career ladder opportunities. Other ways we plan to sustain the initiative beyond the current budget include: 1) developing program implementation guides for employers as an alternative to the chamber providing one-on-one training, which can be very expensive; and 2) purchasing software to use in the chamber's business assistance center, which is a resource for employees and employers to use printers, computers, and software free of charge as well as take part in industry-specific training workshops.

Q: How do you measuring/benchmark success?

Metro South: For the Careers in Health Initiative, we collect employee-level data through surveys and ongoing and frequent dialogue with both participants and employers. The data collected tracks movement up the career ladder including wage increases, as well as employer data such as job creation and retention. A large component of the Workforce Training Consortium fund grant was tracking the return on investment for participating businesses.

All of our education/workforce development initiatives are grounded in research conducted with employers and the broader community, and they are the result of a cumulative effort over years of listening to community needs and supporting the regional healthcare industry.

Q: What advice would you give chambers interested in engaging in education attainment/workforce development?

Develop a strategy and test it with educational and employer partners. Then convene relevant stakeholders from education and business to refine the strategy and establish a plan of action.

 ACCE has embraced Lumina Foundation’s Goal 2025, a national effort to increase the percentage of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. Working in partnership with Lumina, ACCE’s Education Attainment Division launched a competitive awards program, providing chambers of commerce a $40,000 award to advance defined regional education attainment goals. In 2014, seven chambers of commerce received awards for setting ambitious workforce development agendas and showing momentum in achieving their community-specific goals.

The 2015-16 Lumina Education Attainment Awards application will launch April 27. 

 

Tags: Lumina, Workforce Development, Big Goal, EAD, Economic Development, education, higher education

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Chambers Mobilizing Towards Goal 2025

Jessie Azrilian on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 3:00:00 pm 

By 2020, the US Economy is predicted to have 55 million available jobs, and 65% of those jobs will require some form of post-secondary education. The fastest growing industries in STEM will require significant levels of education after high school. Evidence from employers surveyed across the country shows an alarming gap between the availability of jobs and workers with the skills to fill them. If current trends continue, these skills gaps are predicted to grow into massive labor shortages.

Big Goal

As the aggregate voice of local business needs, chambers of commerce are partnering with higher education institutions and community stakeholders, in order to equip the future workforce with the skills needed for college and career success. 

Embracing Lumina Foundation's national effort to increase the percentage of Americans with degrees and high-quality credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025, ACCE launched a competitive awards program providing member-chambers a one-time $40,000 award to advance existing post-secondary education initiatives.

While approaches among awardees vary from championing career-themed high schools to launching training programs for healthcare workers, these chambers all demonstrate a history of sustained engagement in moving the needle on regional education outcomes. Through interviews, reports, and peer-to-peer sharing, leadership from the seven winning chambers have provided insights into what it takes to ensure students have the skills needed for success and employers have the talented workforce they demand.

Awardee Interviews

The Goal 2025 blog series will feature one winning chamber each week in order to highlight successes, challenges, and opportunities identified throughout this awards program that can help other chambers build scalable and replicable programs and policies.

Follow the series each week to learn how chamber-led initiatives like Pathways to Prosperity and Talent4Tomorrow are connecting the current and future workforce to high-demand, high-wage skills and careers.

The 2015-16 awards application will launch April 27.

Tags: Lumina, postsecondary, skills gap, Workforce Development, Big Goal, education, Education Attainment Division, Goal 2025, higher education

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The Buddy System: Chambers Supporting New Year’s Health Resolutions

Michelle Vegliante on Monday, January 5, 2015 at 10:10:00 am 

It is often said that the key to sticking to your New Year’s resolution is using the buddy system: enlisting a partner to support your journey and report your progress to. In the New Year, chambers of commerce are taking on this role in their communities for members who want to support their employees’ workforce wellness resolutions. Both the Greater Des Moines Partnership and Saratoga (NY) Chamber of Commerce have announced new initiatives to boost the health of their communities in 2015:

  • Along with community partners, the Greater Des Moines Partnership has unveiled a new Wellness Toolkit, in an effort to help its small business members make Iowa the healthiest state in the country by 2016. With one year to tackle this goal, the Chamber has created a business-friendly 12-month toolkit.

  According to the press release, “many small business owners like the idea of helping their employees remain healthy, but don’t have enough time, knowledge, or resources to implement a program. The Get Active Wellness Toolkit seeks to remove those barriers by arming small businesses with ‘plug-and-play’ content to help them implement a wellness program within their offices.” 

  Each month in the toolkit represents a different health theme, from fitness to dental health. Each kit contains a poster that lays out wellness tips, facts, and resources. Employers can also download packets that contain more health facts, suggestions for activities to implement in the workplace, and daily health tips that they can email to employees.

  Also found on its wellness homepage, the Partnership has created various fact sheets regarding health and fitness, compiled a directory of resources for wellness in the workplace, and even supports a mobile app that connects members of the Des Moines community who have committed to an active lifestyle.

  • The Saratoga (NY) Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Blue Shield of Northeastern NY, is hosting Saratoga’s first-ever Health and Wellness Week from January 5-11. Enlisting the participation of member businesses, the event will showcase many of the health and wellness opportunities available in Saratoga, with the goal of inspiring the community to live healthier in 2015.

  Throughout the week, member businesses will help create buzz and excitement around health and wellness by offering a wide range of workshops, classes, discounts and seminars. These mini-events are designed to help community members explore new health and wellness products and services. Examples include mineral water tours, free fitness classes, mini facials, and cooking classes.

  The Saratoga Health and Wellness Week was the brainchild of the chamber’s new Health and Wellness Committee, which is charged with expanding the chamber’s already expansive initiatives to make Saratoga one of the healthiest communities to live in.


For more information on how chambers are helping create healthier communities:

- Visit the Workplace Wellness and Community Health Chamberpedia Page to learn how chambers support childhood obesity prevention, corporate wellness, and access to healthcare
- Download the Workplace Wellness Communication Briefs to disseminate to members and broader community to explain how businesses can support healthy communities and healthy economies.

Tags: Community Health, Corporate Wellness, Workforce Development

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