Strada Education Network Invests $8 Million to Support Innovative Solutions Connecting Education and Employment

National competition winners include collaborative partnerships between educators, employers and community organizations

INDIANAPOLIS– Strada Education Network today announced the award of $8 million in grants to organizations that are working to prepare learners of all ages for in-demand careers.

“No one sector can close skill and equity gaps, alone. These grants reflect a commitment to investing in an ecosystem of providers to help individuals bridge the divide between education and economic opportunity,” said William D. Hansen, president and CEO of Strada Education Network. “These grant partners understand that completion, alone, is insufficient to make good on the promise of postsecondary education. They’re listening to education consumers as well as employers, and designing solutions that are relevant to the real-world challenges – and opportunities – today’s students face.”

According to recent data from the Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey, individuals who view their educational experience as relevant to the world of work are far more likely to complete their education and report that their learning was worth the cost. Employers also indicate that they prefer to hire people who gain practical work experience as they study.

A total of seven organizations were selected from hundreds of applicants in the “innovative solutions in education-to-employment” competition Strada announced in 2018. The recipients of the three-year awards are:

Institutions Re-thinking the Connection between Education and Employment

  • Bay Path University: Bay Path University is a private, nonprofit college known for launching the first all-women’s online college. Female students who participate in the institution’s unique Social Online University Learning (SOUL) program graduate at twice the national average. Support from Strada Education Network will scale the University’s American Women’s College SOUL program to help low-income working women earn degrees in cybersecurity and technology, qualifying them for higher-paying, in-demand jobs.
  • George Mason University: Grant funding will support the institution’s pioneering transfer program, ADVANCE, designed to bridge the gap between community college and a four-year degree. Participating students receive on-the-job training and coaching to create a more seamless transition from college into the world of work in collaboration with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and regional employers in the healthcare and technology industries.
  • Oregon State University: Funding will support the expansion of the College of Business’ successful Education to Career curricular model across first through fourth years for all 3,500 business majors. In addition to backing scholarships for low-income students, Strada funding will support the design of six experiential career prep courses, along with activities to advance the placement of students in mentoring and internship opportunities with a network of more than 450 employers.

Nonprofits Bridging the Economic Divide

  • Code Nation: A national nonprofit that equips students from under-resourced high schools with the skills, experiences, and connections that create access to high-paying careers in technology. The funding will support the delivery of tuition-free classes, mentoring, and work-based learning experiences to high school students in Greater New York City, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay area.
  • Community Education Coalition: An Indiana-based nonprofit whose EcO network initiative is a system-building partnership of business, education and community collaboration. The Coalition works to increase educational attainment connected to high-demand jobs in Southeast Indiana. Funding will support workforce training for adult learners, especially low-income learners and Southeast Indiana’s growing Latino population. It will also expand Ivy Tech Community College Information Technology and college/career success programs.

Workforce Organizations Building Untapped Talent

  • Commonwealth Corporation Foundation: Funding will support the design and delivery of nine online and hybrid programs, primarily in health care, as well as IT and manufacturing for working adults and disconnected youth. The Massachusetts-based workforce development agency will bring together postsecondary institutions, training providers, and employers to design competency-based courses that will enable learners to apply previous learning as well as access new on-the-job learning experiences.
  • San Diego Workforce Partnership: Backing from Strada will enable the San Diego workforce agency to expand a successful program to train and place 500 adult and working learners from underrepresented backgrounds in data mining, business intelligence, Java programming and Front End Web Design jobs. The workforce board will be among the first in the country to offer Income Share Agreements (ISAs).

“These grantees are demonstrating what’s possible when the design of education and training programs start with consumer insights,” said Carol D’Amico, Strada executive vice president for mission advancement and philanthropy. “They reflect both the diversity of the communities they serve, and the multitude of opportunities that can be unlocked through fresh thinking at the intersection of education and employment.”

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Media contact:

Lucia Weathers, 317.806.0177, Lucia.weathers@stradaeducation.org