Strada collaborates with students, policymakers, educators, and employers across the U.S. to strengthen the link between education and opportunity.
We prioritize policies, practices, and programs that help ensure postsecondary education provides equitable pathways to opportunity.
We advance our mission through research, grantmaking, social impact investments, public policy solutions, Strada-supported nonprofit organizations, and strategic initiatives.
This article by Paula C. Squires originally appeared on Virginia Business.
At 23, Kriston Moore works at a McDonald’s for $7.25 an hour. A single father of three children under four years old, he wants to increase his earning potential beyond minimum wage.
Moore enrolled in a program known as Middle College. He has obtained a GED (the equivalent of a high school diploma) and a manufacturing technician certificate. Now he’s a student in a five-month course that will earn him a CLA, short for certified logistics associate. When he graduates in June, Moore will have the skills to work as a technician in the warehouse and distribution industries, where he could earn twice what he’s making now.
“I want a good-paying job in manufacturing to the support the children,” he says.
Moore’s ultimate goal? “I’d like to become a pediatrician. I like kids,” he says.
Moore learned the value of an education the hard way. Homeless at 14, he says he knocked around Chicago and didn’t finish high school. While he was able to make “good money” working in a commercial kitchen, he moved to Richmond and decided to get his high school diploma.
That’s when he found out about Middle College at Reynolds Community College in downtown Richmond. It’s one of eight Virginia community colleges helping young adults, ages 18 to 24, obtain their GEDs and continue on to college. That’s been the traditional design of Middle College, which started in 2003 and helps about 2,000 students a year.
With Virginia’s increased emphasis on workforce credentials, however, Middle College is evolving. It’s beginning to focus more on short-term skill training programs that may be supported by grants from area employers.
In another new wrinkle, Reynolds Community College is piloting a different design model in the program. Under this approach, the college partners with existing adult-education resources for academic courses, while integrating workforce training into the instruction for high-demand fields such as logistics, nursing and customer service. The training leads to industry-recognized credentials, which help the students get jobs.
While some Middle College students pursue two- or four-year college degrees, that path is the exception rather than the rule, says Jim Andre, director of Middle College and Adult Career Services. After getting their GEDs, many students immediately go to work or join the military. In response to that trend, “the focus has moved to: ‘What can we do to help individuals coming through this program get jobs? How do we meet the demands of the employers in our region in training the workforce to be ready?’ ”
By matching up young adults with Middle College (which they can attend for free), Andre believes community colleges are helping to build the workforce of the future. “There are a lot of young Virginians out there, a growing number, who aren’t connected to any kind of education, and they are economically wandering,” he says. “ … In an era of low unemployment, these are the folks that we can help be career-ready for Virginia’s high-demand career occupations.”
After receiving a two-year, $1 million grant this past fall from USA Funds, a nonprofit that focuses on higher education and workforce challenges, the Community College Workforce Alliance — in conjunction with Reynolds and John Tyler Community College in Midlothian — is expanding and creating programs that Andre hopes to roll out statewide. The grant should serve about 135 young adults, with a focus on African-American and Hispanic Virginians. The money provides eligible students with everything they need to complete a short-term, workforce-training program. “We want to help them work towards a career, instead of just trying to get a job,” says Mary Jo Washko, who directs the Middle College program at Reynolds.
For instance, Washko says the CLA qualifies students for more than a “pick-and-pull” job in logistics. “It helps their exposure to the field of logistics.” With Richmond home to a deep-water hub and located at the crossroads of major interstates, there are jobs in the area. Plus, instructors help students make connections with employers in the field, she says.
Middle College has long enjoyed partnerships and grant support from the business community, adds Washko. Capital One Financial Corp., Virginia Credit Union, Goodwill Industries and the Jackson Foundation all have been past supporters.
One of the strengths of Middle College, says Washko, is that students feel they have a home base on campus. Located in a corner nook in Room 626 on the Reynolds campus, the space has a computer lab and a classroom. It draws about 350 applicants a year.
To be considered for one of the new programs like logistics, applicants must be able to score at a ninth-grade level or above on math and reading tests. They also must commit to a five-month program, sign a commitment form and submit an essay on why they didn’t finish high school. Students attend class for a half a day Monday through Thursday.
“A lot of our students don’t have great support systems,” says Washko. Many of the students have children and child-care issues, and others will be the first in their families to graduate from high school.
The new pilot program for Middle College includes several components: GED and basic skills preparation and testing, workforce training and testing, college and workforce readiness exposure activities, digital and financial literacy, bus tickets and free parking and class materials and testing fees.
By integrating education, partnerships and career pathways, Washko says the program gives students a “fantastic opportunity.”
Moore agrees. “The staff, the teachers: They do not want to see you fail. They want you to succeed. It makes you feel so special.”
Moore enjoys being in a class of 50 other students, and he likes the idea of graduating with his classmates. Middle College, he says, “opened up my mind and gave me a different mindset. It brightened my horizons. I’ve got my GED now, which opens me up to a lot more jobs. So why not go on, instead of putting yourself in a box?”
Donald Pippin, director of Middle College for Danville Community College since 2007, says the program is life changing for students and teachers. “We have a lot of students who have babies, a lot who have no home support, and some of them live in homes where no one has ever worked or had a high-school diploma … We have several students who are homeless, and some don’t have food,” he says. “When they get that GED and graduate, it’s a big thing for them.”
Danville Community College throws a graduation celebration with caps and gowns, a processional march, special awards and a party. “For many of our students, this is the first accolade they have ever received for an academic credit,” says Pippin.
Typically, Danville’s program has about 65 to 70 students a year, most of them African-American women. Of this number, nearly 80 percent obtain their GED and about 55 percent enroll in college to pursue a degree, says Pippin. Before they leave the program, 96 percent earn a National Career Readiness certificate. That credential is good in any state, assuring employers that a student has certain workforce skills.
For a larger picture of the program’s impact, Pippin offers these statistics. From fall 2004 through December 2016, 781 students enrolled in Danville’s Middle College classes. Of that group, 483, or nearly 62 percent, earned their GED, and 542, or 69 percent, earned career readiness certification.
Danville offers short-term training programs in welding and precision machines, and some of its students go on to get jobs at BWX Technologies Inc., a nuclear power company in Lynchburg. “They need something more than a GED,” says Pippin. “That’s why we put them in short-term skill programs, to get them in the workforce, to get them wages and jobs, and to be productive citizens in the community.”
While Middle College programs are free, college is not. Nearly all of former Middle College students are eligible for federal Pell grants to help pay for tuition, says Pippin.
Jeff Kraus, assistant vice chancellor for communications for the Virginia Community College System, says the commonwealth took an innovative approach 14 years ago in creating Middle College.
“It makes sense that we are shifting as different avenues of opportunity become available,” he says. “We know nationally that, when it comes to industry certification credentials, one out of three who earn a credential go on to earn traditional college degrees. That’s more practical on the front end and more valuable to the people we’re serving.”
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This article by Madeline St. Amour originally appeared in Inside Higher Ed.
Virginia’s largest community college and a prominent public research university have co-partnered with an educational management and student support service provider to improve academic outcomes for transfer students.
Edtech integration can cause headaches if technology solutions aren't "getting along"--but a new free tool could help alleviate that pain
New building will house over 500 employees
DXtera Institute, a nonprofit consortium of higher ed institutions, ed tech companies and other postsecondary education professionals, has released a free Next Generation Integration Scorecard (NGIS) aimed at improving technology integration in higher education.
Massachusetts will be the recipient of financial and technical help to build “data-driven approaches” to linking residents to jobs in growing industries, thanks to a partnership between the National Governors Association and the Strada Education Network.
This article by Carol D’Amico originally appeared on RealClear Education.
This article by Jeffrey J. Selingo originally appeared on the Washington Post.
The letter alerting Cal State Northridge students that they were being put on academic probation was pretty blunt and scary: shape up or risk getting kicked out.
Michigan State University has long worked with and competed against other colleges and universities in the United States.
One of the students leaving today on “Roadtrip Indiana” says she expects an “awakening” of what Indiana is about. Purdue University senior Shannon Newerth is joining two other Indiana students on a two-week RV trip throughout the state to take part in career exploration and work-based learning opportunities. The trip, organized in part by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and several private partners, will be the subject of an upcoming public television documentary.
As a lifelong baseball fan, former high school baseball player, and coach for 20 years, I have always been struck by how deeply intertwined baseball and learning really are. An education advocate for most of my career, I have seen firsthand how a passion for sports can shift mindsets and create sustainable pathways to college, meaningful careers, and inspired lives.
More than half of adults in the U.S. would change at least one aspect of their higher education experience, according to a new survey from Gallup and the Strada Education Network. Common regrets were choice of institution and major or field of study. Comparatively, relatively few regretted their degree type.
A majority of Americans who attended college say they received a quality education. But half would change at least one of these three decisions if they could do it all over again: the type of degree they pursued or their choice of major or institution.
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Half of college graduates regret their choice of school or major, according to a national survey.
Approximately half of all U.S. adults who pursued or completed a postsecondary degree would change at least one aspect of their education experience if they could do it all over again, including their major or field of study, the institution they attended, or the type of degree they obtained.
Regrets, I’ve had a few…and so have most Americans — at least when it comes to decisions they’ve made regarding their education. A new Gallup poll out today finds that 51 percent of Americans would change at least one of their education decisions if they had to do it all over again. Thirty-six percent said they’d choose a different major, 28 percent would attend a different school and 12 percent would pursue a different type of degree, according to the poll.
On May 2, the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus in conjunction with the Alliance for Excellent Education hosted “College and Career Pathways: Stories of Innovation.” The Alliance is a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization focusing on high school redesign for underrepresented students. The briefing revolved around “highlighting innovative approaches across the country to college and career pathways that have led to positive outcomes for traditionally underserved students.”
Data analytics has proven to be a powerful tool in a number of industries, and in higher ed, it has significant potential to help institutions streamline operations and improve experiences for students. But in using that data, colleges and universities must also be careful to also consider the underlying causes behind some of those numbers.
This is important news for admissions officers, who may feel that low-income students pose more of a risk at a four-year college or university. These students are just as capable of thriving as those from more affluent households, but institutions and policymakers must also consider that they may need more resources.
In a Monday morning session at the ASU+GSV Summit in Salt Lake City, a panel of thought leaders discussed how to expand access and success, particularly among low-income, first-generation and underrepresented student populations.
INDIANAPOLIS — Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers recently announced a new initiative, “Roadtrip Indiana,” that aims to help Hoosier students make more informed decisions about their futures through intentional career exploration and direct engagement with employers across the state.
TPT Global Tech, Inc. (OTCQB: TPTW) announced today it has completed its $1.75M Asset acquisition of SpeedConnect LLC (“SpeedConnect”) and the assumption of certain liabilities. The Asset Purchase Agreement required a deposit of $500,000, paid as part of entering into the Asset Purchase Agreement and an additional $500,000 paid at closing.
Strada Education Network, which recently changed its name from USA Funds and is now focused on supporting college completion and success, announced Monday that it had purchased InsideTrack, which provides student coaching services for hundreds of colleges. InsideTrack says it has served 1.5 million students with its outsourced coaching services, which research has found to be effective.
NCAN recently closed the Call for Proposals period for our National Conference that will take place in San Diego from Sept. 11-13, marking an exciting time of the year for us here at NCAN. We look forward to reading about ideas from members and non-members alike across all of the different threads of the college access and success field. We read about exciting ideas, thoughtful approaches, new research, and (near and dear to my heart) how we evaluate what is or is not working. Proposals flood in from every corner of our field and the country.
TRACKING SUCCESS: Student coaching startup InsideTrack has merged with Strada Education Network, a newly formed nonprofit made up of companies focused on student success in higher ed. According to a press announcement, Strada Education will own InsideTrack, which will remain an “independent entity” under CEO Pete Wheelan.
The Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) hosted a groundbreaking ceremony in New York City to announce that the start of construction has begun for the highly anticipated Jackie Robinson Museum.
Future. It’s a word that appears in the titles of at least 65 panels at next week’s annual ASU-GSV summit, where educators, innovators, and entrepreneurs will meet in Salt Lake City to talk about the Future of Education for America’s 74 million children, as well as adult learners.