Cyndi Andrews was taking part in a national Department of Labor webinar when she heard the news: The Oregon CASE consortium, led by Clackamas Community College, was the top performer in the first year of the federal grant aimed at strengthening the workforce.
Andrews leads the statewide CASE program and was instrumental in determining the strategy for the grant. “Our goals were ambitious. We knew we had to begin aggressively. Some grantees spent the first year of the grant getting equipment and developing curriculum,” she said. “We began working with students within a few months.”
The CASE (Credentials, Acceleration, and Support for Employment) grant is a three-year community college workforce grant funded by the federal Department of Labor. The Oregon CASE grant is one of 32 Round One grants awarded across the nation in 2011 with the goal of providing targeted job training and education to strengthen the nation’s workforce and put people back to work. The grants support partnerships between community colleges and employers to develop programs that provide pathways to family-wage jobs, including building instructional programs that meet specific industry needs.
The CASE consortium led all grantees for year one of the program, surpassing all goals for serving students in training programs and earning degrees, certificates and college credit. The first year of the grant, the Oregon colleges enrolled 794 people in the CASE program, more than twice the number projected.
The CASE consortium developed a three-pronged strategy to support under- and unemployed people, as well as those eligible for Trade Adjustment Act (TAA) monies because their jobs were lost to overseas competition. The strategy focused on “three C’s”: one-on-one career coaching, building career pathways leading to employment, and developing a flexible means to provide credit for prior learning.
Andrews says the Oregon’s consortium success resulted from increased cooperation between agencies supporting increased employment including the TAA and Worksource Oregon, a statewide network linking businesses and skilled workers.
“We’ve eliminated some of the silos and created closer links between agencies that share common goals,” Andrews said. “The community college systems can be challenging to navigate, especially if you’re older and not familiar with educational planning and the resources available.”
For more information about the CASE grant, please contact Cyndi Andrews at 503-594-3025.