Massachusetts Community Colleges Consortia Awarded $20M U.S. Department of Labor Grant Highest Funded Grant in the CountryPage Title

Pittsfield, MA - September 30, 2014 –A consortia proposal submitted collectively by the 15 community colleges in Massachusetts led by Massasoit Community College has been selected by the U.S. Department of Labor for the final round of federal funding from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant (TAACCCT). The community colleges are advancing a comprehensive approach to addressing the training and educational needs of workers and employers statewide with a focus on articulated pathways to careers in high-growth STEM sectors (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math; as well as advanced manufacturing and healthcare). The $20 million grant is the highest funded of the 66 awarded in the country by U.S. DOL.  The project entitled Guided Pathways to Success in STEM (GPSTEM) will use the national Complete College America Guided Pathways to Success model to assist eligible students in obtaining degrees and certificates in STEM fields.  The model focuses on reducing the time to completion of certificates and degree programs, resulting in more students entering employment in the Commonwealth and/or transferring to baccalaureate education to add to their credentials. 

During the three-year grant period, 24 STEM degree options and 58 certificate programs will be newly created or significantly enhanced in partnership with business/industry, the Commonwealth’s workforce system, the state universities and UMass. The project will also build capacity on the highly successful Career & College Navigator model the Massachusetts Community Colleges designed and implemented during the Round I TAACCCT Grant Award in 2011.  An important part of the Round IV initiative will focus on creating collaborative pipelines for students to seamlessly transfer to baccalaureate programs in order to meet industry demand in certain STEM industry areas.

“Creating key pipeline collaborations in the STEM fields in conjunction with the state universities and UMass will serve as a new model for creating comprehensive higher education and industry partnerships in the Commonwealth,” said Bill Hart, Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office.

The focus is primarily on helping TAA-eligible un- and under-employed workers and veterans enter STEM programs and obtain high-skill, high-waged jobs. However, the funding to implement Complete College America’s GPS model will assist community colleges in infusing additional comprehensive student supports throughout the 15 campuses that will benefit all student populations.

With new TAACCT funding, BCC will focus its efforts on developing stackable and latticed credentials in STEM fields including Advanced Manufacturing, Biotechnology, and Health Sciences utilizing the Guided Pathways to Success/GPS model of learning acceleration.  The GPS program model focuses on shortening the time to degree completion so that participants are able to enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year institution.  BCC’s program will target TAA-eligible and other workers in Berkshire County.  Area manufacturing employers were supportive of this statewide initiative.  This project will build upon successful efforts of the current statewide MCCWDTA grant and will provide a workforce ready to enter into high-growth STEM career fields. 

“The announcement of this grant is a testament to the value of the work done at community colleges and will greatly benefit our students as they learn about the many options they can pursue in STEM fields.  The timing of this opportunity couldn’t be better as it will position us to further support the Berkshire Innovation Center by providing the workforce of the future,” said BCC President Ellen Kennedy.

Additionally, $5M of the $20M will be used for an additional statewide collaborative to work with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the state’s workforce system (state career centers and Workforce Investment Boards) to create a pilot around technology enabled solutions to integrate systems at the community colleges and the state’s career centers to aggregate data and inform decisions on serving Trade Impacted workers, unemployed and underemployed clients, and students.  This additional statewide collaborative will be referred to as the Data Bus and is a project on top of the main proposal of the development of Guided Pathways in STEM.  Cape Cod Community College also received a solitary grant of $2,471,478 to focus on training students in aviation maintenance and avionics; bringing the total funding for Massachusetts to more than $22,400,000.