The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) announced a $4.19 million three-year grant from Walmart Foundation to support the Job Ready, Willing and Able (JRWA) initiative, including $2.67 million directly supporting 17 community colleges across the country, including Grossmont College.
Grossmont College’s portion of the grant will support the Office Professional Training program, an intense, one-semester program that provides students with the administrative skills necessary to work in insurance, accounting, financial services and clerical offices. The program is entirely self-supported and is free to students who qualify. Grossmont College is the only participating college in California.
“Since 1985, the Office Professional Training program has graduated more than 2,200 individuals,” said Sunita V. Cooke, president of Grossmont College. “The program provides extensive support services to the students and thus enjoys a phenomenal success, completion and job placement rate. Graduates of this program have often celebrated not only the difference this program meant in their own lives, but also the impact the program had on their family. This program truly has a positive impact not only on individuals, but on families and communities.”
The JRWA initiative will provide middle-skill training, industry-recognized credentials and access to employment across varying industry sectors in each of the 17 communities, including San Diego County. Students who have access to high-quality education and training programs, relevant and quality job opportunities, and public benefits and supports are more apt to persist and succeed.
The 17 participating colleges were selected through a highly competitive process. Four colleges will be mentor colleges, with support from AACC, the National Association of Workforce Boards, AACC Affiliate Councils and industry associations. Mentors were selected from AACC’s 2008–2010 Workforce Economic Opportunity Initiative funded by Walmart Foundation and will provide additional guidance to 13 mentee colleges. All 17 colleges address current and potential growth of jobs in their communities.
Examples range from office assistant training in California, unemployed mineworkers in rural Kentucky learning electrical linemen skills, industrial mechanics and manufacturing certificates in Utah, viticulture skills in Oregon and Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) programs in Colorado. All colleges will work closely with local businesses, economic development leaders and the area workforce systems to collaboratively address the needs of the unemployed. The initiative aims to provide more than 5,000 unemployed adults with new skills, credentials and jobs.
“We are proud to continue our work with Walmart Foundation at a time when the nation is focused on middle-skill careers and opportunities,” said Walter Bumphus, AACC president and CEO. “This initiative is a model for how community colleges can connect students with specific, sustainable jobs in their communities and contribute to long-term economic growth.”
The 13 mentee colleges selected for the JRWA initiative are Grossmont College (Calif.); Community College of Aurora (Colo.); St. Johns River State College (Fla.); Kirkwood Community College (Iowa); Ivy Tech Community College (Ind.); Hazard Community and Technical College (Ky.); Jamestown Community College (N.Y.); Cuyahoga Community College (Ohio); Montgomery County Community College (Penn.); Northeast State Community College (Tenn.); Tarrant County College District (Texas); Snow College (Utah); and West Virginia University at Parkersburg (W.Va.).
The four selected mentor colleges are Arkansas Northeastern College (Ark.); Northeast Community College (Neb.); Umpqua Community College (Ore.); and Northern Virginia Community College (Va.).