Fellowship cohort 3

201617 Fellowship for Education Attainment

The ACCE Fellowship for Education Attainment assists chamber executives as they mobilize efforts to improve the birth-to-career education pipeline in their communities. Selected executives engage in an education and workforce development deep dive involving best practices in education attainment, interaction with national experts and inclusion in a strong peer-to-peer network. Throughout, fellows develop and execute plans for specific educational attainment objectives in the form of a regional action project (RAP).


2016-2017 Cohort RAP Summaries

Ashley Cagle

Ashley Cagle, Director of Talent & Product Development, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce (NC)
The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Talent & Education Strategy: Building the Talent & Education Council

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce has identified a need to create more of a bridge between our talent-focused efforts and our education-focused efforts. Across our service lines within the Chamber, we will work collectively to identify the members of our Wake County education ecosystem and convene them regularly to discuss and influence decisions related to our local talent pipeline, address relevant policy issues, and create strategic programming as a result of both conversation and high-value data and analytics. This convening of education ecosystem partners will materialize in what we will call the Talent & Education Council of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. Our goal is to simply retain, grow and foster the world-class workforce that has made our community a life science and IT destination.

Elizabeth Caudill

Elizabeth Caudill, Director of Higher Education and Workforce, Dallas Regional Chamber (TX)
Building Tomorrow Together: Addressing Workforce Needs Through Higher Education Transfer and Articulation Reform

The State of Texas unveiled a plan for college completion based on labor market needs to have 60% of adults ages 24-32 hold some form of post-secondary credential by the year 2030. This new 60x30TX plan is an ambitious goal that will require dedication from all post-secondary institutions in order to meet the evolving workforce needs. Currently in Dallas County the 6-year college complete rate is 30%, far from the state-wide goal and from the needs of the workforce. In order to address the needs of our community, the Dallas Regional Chamber has been active in innovative solutions for college completion- specifically improving Transfer and Articulation policies and procedures for students. Currently students lose an average of 13 college credit hours when attempting to transfer from a 2-yr to a 4-yr institutions, which equates to an additional $19 Million in fees and tuition. The DRC is working with over a dozen regional community colleges, universities, and collective impact organizations to improve the transfer process through data, legislative policies, and regional partnerships.

Cara Hansen Clarke

Cara Hansen Clarke, Executive Director, Las Vegas Metro Chamber Foundation  
Public Policy Leadership Series for People Who Want to Run for Education Boards

Individuals who run or are appointed to education boards need specific expertise on education policy and the mechanics of running an education system. Know-how in how education budgets – often times some of the largest budgets in a state – work; knowledge of education policy, insight into best practices, understanding of assessments and metrics, as well as understanding of labor contract provisions, are all essential for people who serve on education boards to understand so they can make wise decisions on behalf of constituents, parents and students.

Develop a program with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) as part of the new Public Policy Leadership Series that will focus on these topics. This class will serve as a training ground for those who want to make a positive difference in the delivery of education at all levels. Additionally, graduates of the program will receive a designation that will help identify them as potential good candidates for education offices.

When community organizations consider candidates to endorse for education boards, they can look at graduation from this program as a strong indicator that the candidate has appropriate understanding of fiscal and budget management, as well as education policy issues. Additionally, designation as a graduate of the program can also give confidence to voters and constituents that they are electing someone who is qualified to serve on education boards.

Patty Day

Patty Day, Project Manager, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (PA)
Lanes of Engagement: Employer Participation in Youth Workforce Development

Through the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s Education and Talent Action Team the Chamber is engaged in efforts that are focused on working with cross-collaborative partners to create a competitive advantage for the region. We do so by supporting innovative efforts to address current and future workforce demands; advocating for policies and investments that provide and enhance access to post-high school training; and telling the story of what makes Greater Philadelphia an attractive place to learn, work and engage.

The Chamber is committed to expanding regional employer engagement in youth workforce development initiatives through exposure to career pathways and experiential learning opportunities. Building on the strengths of existing partnerships and Chamber programs we will 1) convene employers to better understand current recruitment and retention needs, across sectors, to identify common workforce challenges, share best practices, and explore opportunities to work together to address some of these obstacles; 2) align regional Career and Technical Education programming to support current and future labor market demands; and 3) develop a marketing piece to help employers understand how they can engage in efforts to support and improve outcomes for our region’s residents through youth workforce development.

Amy Donahoe

Amy Donahoe, Director of Workforce Development, The Chamber of Greater Springfield (OH)
College Intern Engagement

Springfield, Ohio is a smaller community located between two larger cities, and our community struggles to attract and retain young talent. My RAP looks to engage businesses who hire summer college interns, as well as our existing Young Professionals Group. I plan to work with our YP program to engage them in helping to create a summer “community awareness” program and a “fun” experience for college interns. Our goal will be to educate the interns about the resources in the community, while creating professional relationships through networking with our current YP’s. Networking and personal engagement is shown to create bonds, and my hope is that Springfield, Ohio will be the first place the interns consider when they begin their job search post college graduation. This RAP also serves as a way to better engage our current YP’s in an actual community project, rather than the numerous after work networking events they are currently doing.

Lyndsay Ferguson

Lyndsay Ferguson, Workforce Director, Chamber of Huntsville-Madison County (AL)
Smart Careers

The project for the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County is focused on career awareness for K12 students. Our region has benefitted from consistent growth in recent years. To ensure that students have access to information about the high need/high wage careers in our area, we seek to arm them and their full support network with resources about those careers and the pathways to obtain them. The goal is to decrease the misalignment of student’s chosen post-secondary fields of study and the high demand careers in our community. We will use data from our 2015 Workforce Summit to focus first on STEM careers and leverage our business and education communities to put a plan in place to help students prepare for STEM-related careers in our community. We will continue to build out our regional website as a resource for students, parents, teachers and counselors/career coaches and also use this as a platform to re-engage our Chamber Foundation in this work. Our measurement will take time as we track student post-secondary enrollment over the next several years as this effort continues.

Rob Garcia

Rob Garcia, Talent Development Manager & Project Manager of the Cobb Workforce Partnership, Cobb Chamber of Commerce
Cobb Workforce Partnership

The Cobb Workforce Partnership—the landmark talent development initiative for Cobb County, Georgia and the first local extension of Governor Deal’s High Demand Career Initiative—was launched as a comprehensive, coalition-based effort to align education with the needs of the local economy and to ensure that Cobb’s students are optimally prepared for 21st Century jobs. While this initiative has many distinct components and priorities, the highest priority action is three-fold: more, better, further. With the majority of the economy’s workforce needs in the technical space, we seek to connect more of our K-12 students directly into technical programs, whether by dual enrollment or directly after graduation; we want a better product in our technical colleges—one informed and driven by local and regional employers; and we want these programs to allow for students to further their education by linking certain technical college credentials with relevant university course credit, making additional education more attainable for all of Cobb’s students and employees. Our metrics to determine our success are the number of students under 20 years old enrolling in Chattahoochee Technical College, feedback from employers affirming satisfaction with Chattahoochee Tech graduate pool and their job-readiness; and a binding agreement by our post-secondary institutions to allow for the articulation of certain credentials, supported by an inaugural cohort of students engaging in this program.

Hannah Horne

Hannah Horne, Director of Public Policy and Small Business, Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce (SC)
Unite: Lowcountry Regional Workforce Summit

Unite is a first-ever, day long summit in February, 2017, bringing together industry stakeholders who are feeling severe growing pains in our region. The industries include hospitality/tourism, healthcare, education and skills/trades—all of which have similar issues, yet never discuss as regional problems which could possibly be solved collaboratively. The summit will be structured with notable speakers and breakout sessions on the area’s most pressing problems which include available workforce, skilled workforce, transportation and housing. The goals are to define the issues, discuss possible solutions and determine next step strategies in a thought provoking, energetic environment that truly UNITES our region.

Shelley Huffman

Shelley Huffman, Director of College & Career Readiness, Indiana Chamber (IN)
You Say You Need Talent: Are Indiana Employers Incentivizing Degree Completion and Wellness?

My regional action plan is to use the Indiana Chamber of Commerce statewide annual workforce survey to discover how to better align postsecondary education attainment of adult workers to Indiana employers’ need for talent. I propose using the statewide employer survey to take a deeper dive into the talent gap to discover employment barriers to degree completion for adult workers. The RAP will examine Indiana employers’ willingness to:

  • Remove barriers to degree completion.
  • Proactively implement practices to assist adult workers complete their degree.
  • Collaborate with postsecondary institutions to provide innovative solutions to degree completion in the workforce.

Specifically, I will design the statewide annual employer survey to examine issues of tuition reimbursement and tuition support, flexibility in employee work schedules for e-learning and online courses to complete degrees, and innovative approaches in partnering with postsecondary institutions to address the talent gap. The employer survey will also look at issues of employee wellness as a driver of talent and education attainment since research indicates that improving education attainment correlates to higher wages and ensures a more productive workforce.

Indiana cannot reach its 60% education attainment goal without moving the 750,000 Hoosier adults with some college, but no degree, towards degree completion. The business community must be engaged in the solution and data collected from this deep dive will be used to identify best practices in talent development by Indiana employers to incentivize employees towards degree completion.

Donny Jones

Donny Jones, Chief Operating Officer & Executive Director of West Alabama Works, The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama
West Alabama Works 2020 Initiative

The purpose of The 2020 Initiative is to provide economic restructuring in the coal impacted communities within our region, as well as in neighboring communities. This will be accomplished through a people-centered pipeline approach of recruitment, assessment, and career pathways that provides new job opportunities through industry-driven training. The project also includes a strong emphasis on developing entrepreneurs and fostering the entrepreneurial ecosystem in targeted communities, along with supporting a sustainable energy initiative in the automobile industry corridor. In addition, the project will include the completion of the Brookwood Technical High School and Training Center, which will be a state-of-the-art regional hub for training in logistics, advanced manufacturing, hospitality, and healthcare.

The program truly represents a regional effort to meet the critical needs of our growing automotive and advanced manufacturing industry that must be met by the year 2020, while responding to the critical needs of communities in our region that have been severely impacted by the changing coal industry.

Ann Kisting

Ann Kisting, Executive Director, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation (IL)
Pathways to Prosperity

As part of an overall workforce development agenda, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation is expanding Pathways to Pipelines, a business-based strategy to expose students to IT careers by facilitating IT internship opportunities. The Chicago region needs a robust IT talent pipeline, and students need meaningful work-based learning experiences to secure IT credentials and launch IT careers. With Pathways to Pipelines, the Chamber Foundation serves the vital role of connector between student, educational institutions and the business community, helping to cultivate the next generation of talent by facilitating the development of “soft” and “hard” skills as well as enabling first-time work experiences—work experiences that can set these young people on an upward employment path, equipped with that most valuable resume credential: an internship. We intend to research and develop a college intern program; identify strategic partners and secure collaboration to ensure a unified approach to employers. In addition, we anticipate the creation of training for employers re; the ROI on internships to optimize outcome, as well as the launch of an online platform/ “Talent Exchange” that enables matching prospective interns’ interest with employers’ needs.

Ellie Lamison

Ellie Lamison, Senior Manager, Workforce Development, York County Economic Alliance (PA)
York Promise

The York County Economic Alliance’s Workforce and Education programming is aimed at raising the educational attainment level in the county with specific interest in minimizing the income equality gap. To that end, we will pursue the implementation of a Promise Program in the City of York which has the highest concentration of poverty in York County. The premise of the program would be to provide tuition free post-secondary education and/or training to any student that successfully graduates from York City’s public education system.

Tim Lampkin

Tim Lampkin, Director of Business Retention and Expansion, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce (NC)
Campus Asheville

The Asheville Metro Area includes 8 colleges and universities. Campus Asheville is a program designed to better connect the students in these educational institutions to each other, career, social, and cultural opportunities. The program will include student led social media initiatives, business leaders providing career guidance, internship connections, discounts to cultural and community events. Overtime, the program will be a tool of differentiation in college recruitment – students attending school in Western North Carolina get hired in Western North Carolina. It will also assist students in better understanding the diversity of opportunities locally and help them make wise career preparation choices while in school.

Charlie Moore

Charlie Moore, IOM, ACE, CCE, President & CEO, McLean County Chamber of Commerce (IL)
Workforce Ready Plan

The retention of top talent has increasingly become a challenge for employers in McLean County. Despite our long-time success in cultivating above average graduation rates of more than 90%, our state ranks as the second largest exporter of college students, and our community like most across the Nation suffers from a changing definition of “work ready”. Currently, studies are underway to aid in the creation of a soft skill standard, now referred to as Essential Employability Skills, and would be applicable throughout McLean County. The intention of these standards is to integrate a curriculum into the educational system (9-16) for both traditional students and transitional employees which address these standards and employer expectations. However, while there’s an intent, there’s not a plan for integration. Over the next year, the ACCE Education Attainment Foundation focus will be to create such a plan which will aid in the workforce ready skills of our students and intentionally match the needs of our employers.

Pat Patrick

Pat Patrick, President & CEO, Lodi District Chamber of Commerce (CA)
Launching The Lodi Jobs Academy

The Lodi Jobs Academy is a partnership between the Lodi Unified School District (7th through 12th Grades & Adult School) and the Lodi Chamber of Commerce and it’s Industrial / Manufacturing Business Group. The Lodi Jobs Academy focuses on attracting and providing curriculum designed by the Business Group to students interested in employment after high school instead of pursuing a 4-year college experience. Given the shortage of young entry level workers or young adults with employable skills needed in manufacturing / processing occupations the Lodi Jobs Academy seeks to fill two large needs:

  • One to supply local manufacturing companies with a more work-ready young entry level employee.
  • Two provide a higher than minimum wage job opportunity to students who are serious about working locally in a manufacturing /processing environment.

Employers are eager to find a more work-ready employee and are committed to helping a young person gain more education in apprentice programs and Community College Certification. The school district is also committed to program expansion on more campuses with increased student demand.

Elizabeth Smith

Elizabeth Smith, Policy and Research Director, Baton Rouge Area Chamber (LA)
Getting People Back in the Pipeline: Growing the Baton Rouge Region’s Talent Pipeline Through Adult-Focused Education Attainment Programs and Practices
Understanding that 1) approximately 74,600 adults in Louisiana’s Capital Region have no post-secondary degree; 2) the majority of new jobs in the area will require education attainment of more than high school but less than a 4-year degree; and, 3) the region’s graduation rate from public technical and community colleges is well below both the national and southern regional averages, I will develop a report that makes the case for focusing on 2-year degree and industry-based credential attainment for adults in Louisiana’s Capital Region as a major strategy for addressing the region’s workforce needs.

Ryan Stauffer

Ryan Stauffer, Director of Workforce and Education Policy, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MO)
Missouri Internship Network

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce’s strategic plan, Missouri 2030, identified preparing the workforce as the single most important issue among Missouri employers. One of the goals of Missouri 2030 is to address the issue of workforce development by expanding relevant work experience opportunities throughout the education system. The development of an internship network will help grow the creation and use of internship opportunities for Missouri students and businesses. The goal of the network will be to increase work-based learning experiences, increase pursuit of relevant career pathways, and help keep graduates from Missouri educational institutions in the state.

Patrick Suter

Phil Suter, President & CEO, Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce (NH)
RCAM 2.0

In 2009, in response to concerns expressed by regional manufacturers – some Chamber members; some not – about the diminishing pipeline of machinists in southwest New Hampshire, the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce (GKCC) launched the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM). Three educational partners were recruited – Keene State College (KSC); River Valley Community College (RVCC); and the Keene School District (KSD) – along with as many manufacturers in the region as were interested; along with local, state and federal elected officials and departments. A group that became known as the RCAM Business Advisory Council began to meet monthly – the first time in most people’s memory that this group of people had ever been in a room together, let alone talk about the local and regional challenges of workforce development (and educational attainment).

In the first couple of years, dozens of projects were launched – boot camps, on-site education & training for HS students, regular tours of manufacturing sites, adult education, apprenticeship programs, CTE internships, etc. While new projects continue to be developed, and some others have been operating for several years, the RCAM initiative began to lose some steam after 3-4 years, and was absorbed into Keene State College. In 2016, GKCC approached the KSC president about “returning RCAM to the Chamber.” That will happen in Fall 2016. GKCC has also engaged local manufacturers, the governments of the City of Keene & Cheshire County, the Southwest Region Planning Commission (SWRPC), and the Monadnock Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) – in order to seek board funding for workforce development, including RCAM 2.0.

Laura Ward

Laura Ward, Director, Middle Tennessee Reconnect Community, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce (TN)
Middle Tennessee Reconnect Community

The project for the Middle Tennessee Reconnect Community (MTRC) will focus on the engagement of adults who are employed in creating access to services and assisting employers in creating programs and policies that support adult attainment in the workplace. Utilizing data from a recent employee survey, deployed by employers, we will make recommendations to employers in the region based on their individual survey results, and track participation in and utilization of MTRC programming. We will make available to employers in the region an Employer Toolkit that outlines how to create a workplace that supports adult attainment. Measures will include the number of employers engaged in the process, and the number of Reconnectors who are employed who access advisement and supportive services in the region.

Ebony White

Ebony White, Director of Workforce & Employer Development, The Business Council of Westchester (NY)
Employer Engagement: Connecting the Disconnected through filling the Middle Skills Gap

Disconnected youth account for a considerable segment of our future workforce in our region. It is essential that these youth are engaged, prepared and connected to significant work experiences to ensure their transition to adulthood and sustainability are successful. Through a recent study analysis of our region, it has been determined there is a major middle skills gap in three major areas, Tech Support, Hospitality Management & Health Information Management. These fields have been projected to continue to grow, have opportunities for career advancement over time, and may not have an adequate supply of qualified candidates. It is our goal to really engage employers to help prepare our future workforce through meaningful work-based learning opportunities as well as help fill a future demand in our region.

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