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 Information on the Community College and Career Training Program 

9/3/2010

The Department of Labor is preparing to issue its first Solicitation of Grant Applications (SGA) for the Community College and Career Training Program.  This program, funded via the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act enacted in late March, will provide $500 million per year in fiscal years (FY) 2011 – 2014 for training and education programs at community colleges and other institutions.  While the final details of the SGA will not be known until it is released, and therefore the information below is subject to change, the following potential program features have been gleaned from administration officials and other sources.

Timing:  The first year that funds are available for the CCCTP is federal fiscal year (FY) 2011, which begins on October 1, 2010.  The Department of Labor’s Solicitation of Grant Applications (SGA) is expected to be released sometime in October, likely in the first half of the month.  There is a possibility that the SGA’s release will coincide with the White House community college summit, which is also planned for that timeframe.  The Department of Education has been intimately involved in the planning of this new program. The grant application deadline will likely fall early in January 2011, with awards being made in the Spring.

Eligibility:  Under the terms of the statute, eligible institutions are all institutions of higher education, including four-year colleges and universities and for-profit institutions, but only with respect to programs that can be completed in two years or less.  States are not eligible applicants, but could be part of college-led partnerships.  Any given institution can only be a fiscal agent on one grant per year, but may be a part of other consortia.  There will be no limitation on institutions that share Employer Identification Numbers from submitting individual grant applications and combining to form consortia, as there had been under the Community-Based Job Training Grants.

Grant Size and Duration:  Grants will be awarded for a three-year period.  It is likely that, because the statute requires that institutions in each state receive at least $2.5 million each year, this will generally be the minimum size for all grants, with a possible exception for smaller institutions that may want to apply for less.  As in the Community-Based Job Training Grants, there will be an opportunity for institutions to form consortia to apply for larger, perhaps much larger, grants, such as at the state level or even across state lines.  There is not likely to be a maximum grant size.

Relationship to Other Trade Adjustment Assistance Programs:  The statutory language requires grant applicants to propose a project that is suitable for TAA-certified workers and identify the extent to which it meets their educational or career training needs; identify the extent to which the project fits within a strategic plan developed by the community under the TAA for Communities program; and the extent to which it is coordinated with any Sector Partnership Grants awarded through this part of TAA in the area (this program has not been funded).  There is also a funding priority for communities that the Secretary of Commerce has determined to have been adversely impacted by trade.  Because the funding for the program is far larger than originally envisioned, AACC expects that the DOL will take a liberal interpretation of these provisions to ensure that the greatest number of community colleges possible will be able to write successful grant applications.  For instance, it may be the case that identifying TAA-certified workers anywhere in the institution’s state will be sufficient to meet the first requirement.  Since the TAA for Communities grants awarded by the Department of Commerce are much smaller in scope and relatively few communities have received them, the priority attached to the connection with plans formed under that program will not likely be great.

Eligible Expenses:  Grants will be made to develop, offer, or improve educational or career training programs that are suitable for (but not limited to) TAA-certified workers.  There are no specific limitations on the uses of funds in the grant's statutory language itself, but like other programs, funds cannot be used for acquiring real property.  However, funds in certain circumstances may be used for the renovation of property to render it suitable for the project’s purpose.  Funds may be used for the acquisition of equipment, curriculum development, and other purposes related to developing a program.  Because TAA-certified workers already have tuition assistance benefits and the emphasis here is on program development, CCCTP program funds will not be available for tuition assistance for program participants.  However, there may be an expectation that programs would be tuition free in their first year or phase.  Travel expenses for personnel engaged in program development may be an allowable expense in limited circumstances.

Program Emphases:  Indications are that the DOL does not view the CCCTP as simply a capacity expansion program.  Successful grants will emphasize reform and innovation, rather than merely an expansion of current efforts at the institution(s), however successful they may have been.  A variety of factors—the program’s own statutory language, TAA’s emphasis on providing funding for a wide range of educational programs, and the fact that the CCCTP funding is “in lieu of’ funding for the American Graduation Initiative—all mean that a wide range of reforms and educational innovation are likely to be supported.  This will likely include emphases on forging career pathway programs, modifying program delivery to meet the needs of dislocated workers (including online programs), and improving developmental education for workers.  In addition, the Administration's strong emphasis on increasing the number of college graduates will likely be reflected in the SGA.

Program Evaluation:  As in other DOL grant programs, there will be a strong emphasis on accountability and evaluation, and evidence-based approaches.  Grant applicants will be expected to state explicitly how they plan to evaluate the success of any funded initiatives.  No particular evaluation method, such as random assignment, will be required.

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