Black, Hispanic, American Indian Colleges May Reap Gains From New Grant Program
By Charles Dervarics
Historically Black colleges and other institutions with a history of serving
minority students stand to benefit from a new U.S. Department of Labor program to improve the skills of tomorrow’s work force.
The department is looking for HBCUs,
Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges that can serve as “catalysts” to build quality
programs to address skill shortages in their
communities. Many top employers nationwide are reporting a shortage of qualified workers in key professions, including technology and
Labor officials say they decided to focus on minority-serving colleges because African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians also are under-represented in many of these professions. If they receive grants, these colleges would work with specific employers in their region to identify skill shortages and develop plans to address such issues.
Under the plan, these minority colleges would create or join regional alliances to address these topics. Training programs must focus on those leaving school as well as dislocated workers and other adults returning to the work force.
The Labor Department will fund both partnership building grants and training grants. Partnership building grants will consist of four phases: coalition building and assessment; plan development; testing and monitoring. These grants should increase opportunities for minority colleges to play a significant role in addressing skill shortages. Colleges also should get access to timely work-force data and develop a broad-based curriculum plan to continue after federal funding ends.
Officials at the federal agency say they will assess partnership building applications on a scale to include: statement of problem and objectives; strength of consortium; prospective target population; strategy and service plan; previous experience and management plan; and cost effectiveness. Labor officials say they
expect to award three to nine partnership grants of up to $750,000 in this competition.
For training grants, applicants must list the projected number of participants and develop plans to measure the effects of services on
issues such as successful job placement, wages and long-term employment stability. For long-term success, colleges and universities must provide evidence that they can implement a successful strategy geared to regional market needs.
They also must address plans to include both entering and dislocated workers. Applicants must have the capacity to build an active partnership with local work-force investment boards and elected officials. Labor Department officials say they expect to provide up to three training grants of $1.5 million to $2 million under this competition. Grants are for one year, though the department can extend either type of grant for an additional one to two years.
Deadline for applications is Sept. 22. For more information, contact Mamie D. Williams at (202) 219-8739.
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