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Community Education Coalition & EcO Network Awarded Grant from Strada Education Network to Connect High School, Postsecondary and Adult Learners with Education Tied to In-Demand Jobs

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019 6:17am

By Strada Education Network Media contact: Lucia Anderson Weathers

Two Madison organizations are part of regional award

THE COMMUNITY EDUCATION COALITION (CEC), today was named as a winner of a philanthropic funding contest by national nonprofit Strada Education Network. THE COMMUNITY EDUCATION COALITION was awarded $997,000 for its largest initiative, Economic Opportunities through Education (EcO) Network, supporting workforce training for adult learners through regional adult education providers, expansion of Ivy Tech Community College Information Technology programs, and college / career success strategies to improve education outcomes connected to well-paying industry sectors, with specific supports for low-income adults and Southeast Indiana’s growing Latino population.


“No one sector can close skill and equity gaps, alone. All of the recipients share our commitment to engaging with an ecosystem of educators, community organizations and employers to help individuals bridge the divide between education and economic opportunity,” said William D. Hansen, president and CEO of Strada Education Network. “We’re excited to support the Community Education Coalition. They’re listening to education consumers as well as employers, and designing solutions that are relevant to the real-world challenges -- and opportunities -- today’s students face.”

According to recent data from the Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey, individuals who view their educational experience as relevant to the world of work are far more likely to complete their education and report that their learning was worth the cost. Employers also indicate that they prefer to hire people who gain practical work experience as they study.

The Community Education Coalition was selected from hundreds of applicants in the “innovative solutions in education-to-employment” competition Strada Education Network announced in 2018, which prioritized investment in working adults required to upskill as the labor market shifts and “disconnected youth,” aged 18 to 24 years old, who are neither working nor in school.


The Community Education Coalition will use its grant to accelerate and expand critical education pathways and student success strategies through its regional EcO Network initiative, to improve education outcomes for K12, postsecondary and adult students, with a focus on equity and inclusion in education for underserved populations.


Grant funds will support:

* Education & career planning programs through EcO Network career awareness and college readiness initiatives for students and families to promote educational success and a college-going culture, focused on high demand STEM careers, in partnership with regional manufacturing, healthcare and IT employers.

* Latino college and career coaches for middle and high school students providing guidance on career and education pathways, and transition to college, through the CEC’s Latino Education and Outreach program.

* New or expanded Ivy Tech Information Technology education programs at four Ivy Tech Community College sites:

o Ivy Tech Community College Batesville: Information Technology Helpdesk Technical Certificate Pathway for High School Students

o Ivy Tech Community College Lawrenceburg: Software Development Technical Certificate Pathway for High School Students

o Ivy Tech Community College Columbus: Accelerated Associate Degree Cyber Academy at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC)

o Ivy Tech Community College Madison: Accelerated Associate Degree Information Technology Pathway

* College student success collaboration with Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC), and Ivy Tech Columbus. The “Gateway Community of Practice” is a collaboration designed to increase student success in college entry-level (gateway) courses. The project seeks to increase college retention rates through instructor-driven, student-delivered approaches, and leverages outcomes based professional development models.

* Expanded Support for Workforce Training for Adult Learners. A partnership of the region’s three adult education providers including Jennings County Adult Educational Center, McDowell Education Center and River Valley Resources. This grant will allow them to increase the number of adult learners enrolling and completing industry recognized credentials and moving into critical, high-demand industry sectors.


“We are very excited to receive this grant award from Strada Education Network,” said John Burnett, Chief Executive Officer of the Community Education Coalition of Columbus, Indiana. “This award is a testament to the hard work and collaborative dedication of the education, community foundation, industry, workforce, government, and community leaders in Southeast Indiana working together for a very long time. This grant will focus on increasing educational success rates for K12, postsecondary and adult students in educational pathways that directly connect into our region’s high demand jobs. The initiatives will have a particular focus on low-income and Latino students to build equitable learning opportunities connected to well-paying employment. We are truly grateful to Strada Education Network for this grant award.”


“The award from Strada represents work that will positively impact our regional system of life-long learning. In southeast Indiana, almost two-thirds of adults lack credentials linked to high-demand, high-wage careers. With Strada as a collaborative partner, we will be able to accelerate our efforts, expanding opportunities for learning across the spectrum from workforce certifications to postsecondary degrees. It is an honor to work alongside partners across the region with the common goal that education provides pathways to a well-prepared workforce and economic stability for Hoosier families,” said Kathy Huffman, EcO Network Manager, Community Education Coalition.


"Grant funds provided to Ivy Tech Community College, Madison will enable our campus to offer an accelerated Associate’s Degree in Information Technology providing our students with the opportunity to earn a 2 year degree in 11 months. Every sector of our economy - manufacturing, healthcare and business – has openings related to Information Technology, so students who successfully complete this program will certainly be offered high wage employment in our region,” said Molly Dodge, Chancellor Ivy Tech Community College Madison Campus.


“River Valley Resources continues to benefit from the strong partnership with EcO Network and their education initiatives in southeast Indiana. We are excited for the opportunities this Strada Grant provides to expand Workforce Certification Training. This funding will allow more adult learners to earn industry-recognized credentials linked to high-demand occupations with opportunities for employment and self-sustaining wages,” said Margo Olson, Executive Director, River Valley Resources, Madison, Indiana.


Additional Partner Quotes:

“Cybercrime threats are real, and vulnerability exploits occur daily. The Strada Education Network’s grant will enable Ivy Tech Community College Columbus and its partners to expand our accelerated Muscatatuck Urban Training Center Cyber Academy program from a cohort of forty to eighty students. This program expansion will provide the workforce necessary to combat and thwart malicious technological attacks. There is a need for Cybersecurity professionals in all professional sectors — finance, healthcare, education, agriculture, technology. The wages offered for these skills are indicative of that demand. Our new accelerated program will undoubtedly impact the need in southeastern Indiana, but will inevitably begin to reach other parts of the state, and the nation, as the program continues to grow,” said Steven Combs, Chancellor Ivy Tech Community College Columbus Campus.


“The generous funding provided by Strada Education Network will ensure that our local high school and adult learners have access to the Information Technology skills needed to ensure successful job placement within our communities, as well as the opportunity to transition into advanced certificate/degree programs should this be their desired educational objective.” Mark Graver, Chancellor Ivy Tech Lawrenceburg/Batesville


“With the growing demand for Information Technology, due to its cross-sector impact and its continued evolution, this grant funding will allow Lawrenceburg and Batesville campuses to address the ever-growing skill gap within IT by providing tuition assistance, paid internship experiences, equipment, and faculty professional development.” Dr. Rebecca Rahschulte, Director Ivy Tech Batesville.


“We appreciate the confidence Strada Education Network and the Community Education Coalition have shown in the work of the Gateway Community of Practice. This collaborative project involving IUPUC and Ivy Tech Community College Columbus has already impacted more than 600 learners through the Supplemental Instruction framework. With this additional funding, many more students and faculty members will benefit from high-impact instructional practices that engage students, motivate faculty, and enhance retention and completion on both campuses,” said Reinhold Hill, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor and Dean at IUPUC, Columbus, Indiana.


“McDowell Adult Education continues to benefit from the strong partnership with EcO Network and their education initiatives in Southeast Indiana. This Strada grant provides amazing support of our Workforce Certification Training that is ongoing and continuing to expand. Increased funding allows us to reach more students and adults in Bartholomew, Jackson, and Decatur counties who are completing post-secondary certifications in high demand fields. Our students earning industry recognized credentials experience life changing employment opportunities through self-sustaining wages and positions,” said Megan Shaff, Director, McDowell Education Center, Columbus Indiana.


“The Jennings County Education Center is very excited for the opportunities the Strada Grant will provide in expanding the number of industry recognized credential training programs available to our adult education students. Many of our students are unemployed or underemployed, so these certification training programs open pathways for our adult students to high-demand occupations which can be completed in 12 weeks or less. Students gain career-related skills that open the door for self-sustaining wages. Occupational certification trainings are life-changing for our students.” Jan Suding, Director of Adult Education, Jennings County Education Center, North Vernon, Indiana.

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