By attaining at least one year of postsecondary education, low-income working adults have an opportunity to earn an improvement in their skills set, their economic status, and a chance for a long-term career plan. In 2009, five Community Colleges in King County were awarded grants to implement College for Working Adults pilot programs in technical and high- demand occupations. The programs included specific design elements to promote student success, including compressed classroom time to move students to a credential more quickly; streamlined registration, course selection and scheduling to simplify college navigation; support services built into program structure to enhance the sense of support and community; and integrated "soft skills" development to ensure students are adequately prepared for the workplace.
Two colleges, Bellevue and North Seattle, are conducting a second CWA cohort. SkillUp continues to provide support services for Shoreline's CNC Manufacturing program.
The College for Working Adults would not be possible without generous donations from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Seattle Foundation, Living Cities and The National Fund for Workforce Solutions.
Career navigators are a crucial part of CWA's success. They help students reach academic completion and career advancement by helping them overcome personal and academic obstacles that often block pathways to success. Navigators are available before class, on-line and on and off campus to meet with students who have any issues. They are also responsible for connecting students in need with the appropriate community partners and other support services funded by SkillUp Washington and its partners, such as the Attainment Fund. This holistic approach to support services strengthen student success toward program completion and employment advancement.
NEW: Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County releases report on the importance of career navigators.
Learning Communities for Systems Change
College for Working Adults schools do not operate in a vacuum. They are actively engaged in learning communities to share programmatic information and map out strategies for creating systems change within the community college system based on the lessons learned from CWA. The most recent learning community meeting was held in late May in Seattle. It was facilitated by OMG Center for Collaborative Learning, which works closely with nonprofit and philanthropic organizations to drive strategic change.
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