U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA) praised a major new grant being awarded today to Bay Area community colleges to provide innovative job training services for area workers. The U.S. Department of Labor is issuing a $14.9 million grant to a consortium of local community colleges led by the Contra Costa Community College District. The money comes from a program that Miller helped write into law in 2010.
The grant is being awarded for a collaborative new program designed by the community colleges. "Design it -- Build it -- Ship it" (DBS) is a regional workforce initiative for TAA-eligible, dislocated workers or unemployed adults who will be able to earn degrees or credentials to enter the workforce in advanced manufacturing, logistics and engineering. The funding comes from a competitive $2 billion grant program Miller passed in 2010 to bolster community colleges across the country and support job training and workforce development opportunities.
"This grant is a "win' for bay area workers and students," said Miller. "Middle class people who are looking for jobs can develop a new career path by taking advantage of this innovative education and job training service. When American workers can go back to school, get more education, and get on a career path, we know they can succeed and have a better opportunity of achieving the American dream for them and for their families. I have always strongly believed that community colleges play a critical role for millions of Americans who want success on the job and success for our country.
"I applaud local community college and business leaders who developed this new program and won this competitive grant. But we can't forget that this funding is at risk," Miller warned. The Ryan Republican budget, named after Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republican Vice-Presidential Nominee, eliminates mandatory funding for this grant program, decreasing college access and workplace training opportunities, Miller said.
"We are honored to be selected for this grant and thank Congressman Miller for his leadership in creating the program," said Dr. Helen Benjamin of the announcement. "We must think and act differently if we are to be successful in managing the fiscal challenges we face while trying to increase the number of students graduating with certificates and degrees. This grant validates our thinking that we must work closer as a public education system, and become more efficiently by partnering with our community partners so unemployed and under employed workers can obtain good paying jobs."
"This application builds upon unprecedented regional collaboration and collaborative investments by the community colleges, workforce boards, and our partners" said Randy Tillery, Dean of Economic and Workforce Development for the Contra Costa Community College District. "This includes the successful East Bay Career Advancement Academy initiative which is a regional career path training system operated jointly by the Contra Costa and Peralta College Districts targeting low income adults entering Career training programs but who assess 1-3 levels below college readiness in math and English. By working collectively, we are able to realize systemic change that allows us to build stronger regional partnerships and better serve both our students and regional industry."
This application from the East Bay will allow the community colleges, public workforce system, regional employers, and the economic development community build a stronger and more responsive regional training system that will help unemployed and under-employed adults train for "middle skill" jobs that regional employers find difficult to fill. Over four years, this award will allow for 12 months of program development and planning and implementation of training and education programs for over 2,000 individuals in the East Bay. The grant consortium includes five college districts: Contra Costa, Solano, Peralta, Chabot/Las Positas, and Ohlone, five regional workforce boards, University of California Berkeley, CSU Eastbay, the Bay Area Manufacturing Renaissance Council, Career Ladders Project, Ports of Oakland and Richmond, and was supported by over 20 major regional employers.
The competitive federal grant program, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program (TAACCT), was one of several initiatives passed by Miller in 2010 as part of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA). Miller's bill increased investment in community colleges and career paths for middle class Americans, and added $2 billion to the TAACCT competitive grant program for community colleges that partner with businesses to expand and improve education and career training programs that can be completed in two years or less. SAFRA was included in the health care reconciliation bill that passed on March 21, 2010 by a vote of 220-211 and signed into law on March 30, 2010.
Miller is a long time champion of public schools and community colleges. One of Miller's primary missions in Congress has been to improve college affordability and accessibility. As a graduate of Diablo Valley College, he understands the important role that community colleges play in educating students.