Friday, September 30, 2011

Rio Salado Receives $2.8 Million Workforce Development Grant

Rio Salado College has received nearly $2.8 million for job training and workforce development. The award represents an initial roll out of community college and career training funds totaling nearly $500 million from the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Making it possible for unemployed Americans to return to work is a top priority of President Obama’s. This initiative is about providing access to training that leads to real jobs,” said Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis.

Rio Salado is one of 32 community colleges from across the nation to receive funding and is part of a seven-college consortium, led by Collin College of Texas. Other members of the consortium include: Bunker Hill Community College, Massachusetts; Moraine Valley Community College, Illinois; Del Mar College, Texas; Salt Lake Community College, Utah, Bellevue College, Washington.

The goal of the consortium is to train displaced workers in the field of information technology. Members of the group will share expertise and resources to advance each institution’s ability to offer high-quality education, training and credentials.

According to Rio Salado College Dean of Instruction and Community Development Jo Jorgenson, the grant money will be used to create a compressed curriculum and a student support model. It will also contribute to logistical support for the consortium such as hosting course content, creation of open source platforms, and initial training for subject matter experts and course development teams across the consortium.

“This grant affords the colleges of the consortium the opportunity to provide education to those who need it the most,” Jorgenson said. “We are excited to participate with other colleges and partners nationwide to expand and enhance education. This program will provide trade-impacted and low-skilled workers with post-secondary learning experiences that will prepare them for sustainable employment in the expanding market of information technology.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is optimistic about the potential return on investment for taxpayers.

“The president knows that building a well-educated workforce is critical to reviving and strengthening the American economy,” Duncan said. “These grants will help community colleges and businesses work together to give students the skills they need to compete for good jobs in growing industries.”