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The Walmart Brighter Futures newsletter is a quarterly publication. Featured are articles from the project’s participating colleges, providing information on promising practices and student successes. If you are interested in learning more about the programs and services mentioned in the articles, please contact the college representative listed in the participating colleges section of this website, or contact Larry Warford, project director and League senior workforce consultant, at 541-913-6006 or warford@league.org.


May 2011

March 2011

December 2010

September 2010

June 2010

March 2010

COLLEGES (most recent newsletter)

Miami Dade College

Seattle Community Colleges

Central Piedmont Community College

Cuyahoga Community College

Lane Community College

Moraine Valley Community College

Sinclair Community College

St. Louis Community College

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Central Piedmont Community College

Spotlight on Student Success: Tyler Auten

Good. Hopeful. Optimistic. Those are the words paraprofessional and former Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) automotive student Tyler Auten uses to describe his experience at CPCC’s Career Professionals Center (CPC.)  Tyler was referred to the Center by other community resources for dislocated workers. This referral led Tyler to the doors of CPCC’s Career Professionals Center, where he connected with CPC Executive Director, Dana McDonald, and her team. The staff immediately began collaborating with Tyler to identify those careers that matched his interests as determined by his assessment test. The results showed that Tyler had an interest in hands-on activities.

This helped Tyler know which employers to approach at a CPCC job fair, and on a whim, he completed an application for a position with INA in Fort Mill, South Carolina. The company called him two weeks later for an interview, and today, Tyler serves as an assembly worker, manufacturing precision components for various automotive engines, transmissions, and power trains across the globe. “Truth be told,” Tyler says, “I like this job better than my last one.”

Tyler recognizes that his hard work has ultimately contributed to his achieving professional success. However, he is extremely thankful to the CPC staff.

“It’s tough sitting around, not knowing how to begin with your job search. CPCC’s Career Professionals Center gives you a sense of taking action, of taking steps toward a better future. The team is on a mission. A mission to help.”

Miami Dade College


The Walmart Brighter Futures Project Back-to-Work Center (Center) at Miami Dade College helps dislocated workers get back to work by providing wrap-around support services, financial assistance, and offering cohort training programs in occupations that are critical to the local economy. Dislocated workers who take advantage of the Center’s services and participate in cohort training thrive in the strong social support system made possible by a common connection. They form bonds, develop a strong sense of alliance, and experience what it truly means to work toward the greater good. And perhaps the most compelling unexpected benefit of the Back-to-Work Center?  Center clients are “paying it forward.”

Paying it Forward at the Homeless Shelter
Jose lost his job as a security guard when his employer closed the business. Jose was living in a homeless shelter near the Wolfson Campus and learned about the Center through a local advertisement. On Jose’s initial visit, he was very quiet and avoided eye contact. As he became more comfortable, he began to talk about the shame and humiliation he felt as a result of losing his job and his house. Jose cried as he shared his feelings of disgrace for not being able to support his mother, who was also forced to leave her home after being laid off.

Jose took full advantage of the services and support provided at the Center and has turned his life around. Jose found a temporary job as a data entry clerk. He continues to go on interviews and is optimistic about finding permanent full-time employment. He looks forward to moving out of the homeless shelter in the near future. In the meantime, Jose is self-confident and assured and serves as a positive role model and beacon of hope to others living in the homeless shelter. The Center made it possible for Jose to change his life. Jose, in turn, is changing the lives of others.

Paying it Forward at Home
Maria is a 61-year-old woman who was working for a local catering company. Unfortunately, the demand for catering services fell sharply when the economy fell and Maria was no longer employed as a caterer. A friend of Maria’s told her about the Center, a program at Miami Dade College that was supposed to help dislocated workers, and suggested she find out more about it. Maria attended an orientation session where she learned about the services provided by the Center. She qualified for a Service Award in the Home Health Aide cohort and started taking classes.

Unfortunately, Maria began to struggle academically and was at risk of failing her classes. She decided to turn her struggle into an opportunity to motivate her grandson, who was also struggling academically. Grandmother and grandson formed a study team and the results were outstanding – both passed their classes and both gained self-confidence. The Center made it possible for Maria to succeed and for her to help her grandson succeed.


Moraine Valley Community College

First a Grant, Then a Job for Walmart Brighter Futures Grant Recipient Peggy Heenan

When the company Peggy Heenan worked for closed, she was unemployed for the first time in 32 years. Her job search quickly revealed that she needed more experience with Microsoft Office to have a competitive edge in today’s job market. Heenan hoped to upgrade her computer skills at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois. While searching the college’s website, she came across the Walmart Brighter Futures Project. With limited funds available for school, Heenan decided to apply for the grant.

After attending an orientation meeting, she was amazed at the resources for dislocated workers and adult students at Moraine Valley Community College. Heenan was quickly approved for a grant and met with a case worker, who helped her enroll in weekend and evening classes that enabled her to update her skills while job searching.              

“I am so impressed with the help and encouragement from the Walmart Brighter Futures Project staff at Moraine Valley,” Heenan said.”From newsletters about local job fairs and employment opportunities to providing individual assistance, everyone is dedicated to helping program participants get the education and training they need to re-enter the workforce.”

Within weeks of receiving her grant, Heenan applied for an admissions recruiter position at Moraine Valley Community College and got the job. Working in higher education is a new career for her, and now she can prepare her own presentations and required reports.

“Thanks to the Walmart Brighter Futures Project, I received the financial resources and job search assistance I needed to successfully transition from displacement to re-employment. I am excited about my new career and look forward to sharing my experience with prospective students,” Heenan said.

Heenan is one of 51 Moraine Valley Community College students who have successfully been placed into a job with the help of a Walmart Brighter Futures Project grant, and hundreds more are enrolled and working on skills training. Since it began in fall 2009, 226 participants, including 42 veterans, have participated in the Walmart Brighter Futures Project at Moraine Valley Community College.

Since a number of students have already used the $2,000 WBF stipend, the staff are identifying additional funding options such as a three-month extension from the Walmart Foundation to continue job search assistance, a partnership with the college’s Workforce Invest Act Program to co-enroll students and a financial aid workshop to introduce program participants to other funding, including scholarships and grants.

Staff are also working with outside contacts to help with job placement. A recruiter for a staffing company is interested in holding special recruiting events with a goal of prescreening and interviewing 100-150 participants during these events. The project coordinator also continues to build relationships with local Illinois Department of Employment Security offices, and a coordinator from the Orland Park Veteran Center facilitates a program orientation to unemployed veterans.

A website, on-campus marketing, weekly e-newsletter, and student satisfaction survey have all helped to keep the Walmart Brighter Futures Project staff focused on getting program participants back to work—and that’s really what this program is all about. Just ask Peggy Heenan.


Seattle Community Colleges

Success Stories

The Seattle Walmart Brighter Futures Project allocated $224,000 of its grant funds to support dislocated workers seeking training for high demand jobs requiring 21st century skills.  To date, nearly $183,000 (82 percent) of these funds have been awarded as scholarships and emergency stipends to 144 dislocated worker students enrolled in professional/technical and certificate programs.  The remaining funds will be awarded spring and summer quarters.

The following success stories describe how the Walmart Brighter Futures Project has made a positive difference in students’ lives:

Ariana was laid off in February 2010 after 12 years in video game development and several finance-related positions.  She spent many weeks unsuccessfully looking for a new job.  In April, Ariana was awarded a Walmart Brighter Futures scholarship that enabled her to enroll in the 1-quarter Accounting Achievement Certification program at North Seattle Community College.  She graduated June 18, and on July 1 she started a new part-time job in the payroll office of a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping refugee women.  Within a month, Ariana was promoted to full time with added responsibilities.  She said, “I was so grateful for the scholarship – I couldn’t have earned my certificate without it.  I was starting to think that I’d need to sell my belongings to survive.” She added, “I feel really fortunate – it all worked out so much better than I could have imagined.”

John was laid off in March 2009 after 18 years as a court reporter, legal assistant, and legal secretary.  Then his wife was laid off.  He recalled ruefully, “We didn’t know how we would survive.”  John spent the next nine months unsuccessfully applying to over 250 jobs before deciding he needed a new strategy.   Having spent many rewarding years as a volunteer with a domestic violence victim support team, John came up with a plan.  Five weeks later, he was enrolled at Seattle Vocational Institute in their Medical Assisting program.  With the Walmart Scholarship, John completed his training within a year and was immediately hired full time as a medical assistant with a large regional health care provider.  He pointed out, “My new skills guarantee that I can keep working for as long as I need to.”

Ed and Rich met last September at South Seattle Community College (SSCC) through the Commercial Driver Training program and have been the best of friends ever since.  A laid-off construction project recruiter, Ed had a lot in common with Rich, a recently-unemployed home construction manager.  Both had been looking for jobs but the housing market had collapsed – no one was building or hiring. They had both done extensive research and decided that SSCC’s Commercial Driver Training program was their best option; companies were hiring commercial drivers. Best of all, within days of graduation, both had been hired by local trucking companies. Rich related, “I am really pleased that Walmart Brighter Futures made the investment in me and helped me get off unemployment.” 


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Cuyahoga Community College

Success Story: Never Give Up!

Kenneth D. was a displaced regional sales manager in the food service industry. It had been ten years since he lost that job but he still had hopes of regaining a similar position in sales. He contacted the Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) Career Development and Transition Centers after reading an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer highlighting our transition services for dislocated workers. Ken asked if we could help him achieve his goal of securing employment.

Ken’s first meeting with a career transition services coach at Tri-C® consisted of him telling the career coach why she could not possibly be of any assistance to him. After detailing his unsuccessful journey to locate another job in sales he finally shared his résumé with the career coach. The document left much to be desired. Ken was not interested in making any adjustments because he was convinced that his “gift of gab” was all it took to land a new job. At the conclusion of the meeting, the career coach offered several points on how he might strengthen his job search. True, he could express himself in a direct, confident manner; however, his listening skills left much to be desired. The coach recommended that he practice asking more questions and then incorporate how his skills can meet the needs of a potential employer. He said that he would consider it and left.

The career coach fully expected never to hear from Ken again.

To our surprise, more than a month later, we received a call from Ken asking for coaching on an upcoming meeting he had scheduled with the owners of a local candy company for an outside sales opportunity position. Together, Ken and the career coach crafted a list of questions to determine the company’s needs and how he might respond by matching his skills and knowledge. They rehearsed his approach until he was confident in how to promote his strengths without disregarding the other person’s input.

The meeting with the two owners turned into a full day of one-on-one interviews with members of the management team. The day of interviews resulted in a long-awaited job offer. Unfortunately, the salary was far below his expectations. Ken called his career coach again. This time they focused on negotiating for a better starting salary. The career coach assisted him on how to justify his readiness to hit the ground running, matching each of their individual needs with his demonstrated skills.

They also developed concessions he was willing to offer and alternatives that included progressive increases based on performance, alternative bonus payouts, and an adjusted reporting structure. Ken and his career coach role played various scenarios and practiced how he would respond. By the conclusion of the coaching sessions, Ken was fully prepared and comfortable with his plan of action.

A week later Ken became the new sales manager for the company at a salary level that was mutually acceptable.

Lane Community College

Adam Henderson

Adam Henderson has always been good at looking ahead and being proactive. He prepared for a career by earning an associate’s degree from Lane Community College (LCC) in RV Technology when the industry was experiencing exponential growth in Lane County. He worked on recreational vehicles as a Service Technician for many years. When the RV industry began to decline, Adam felt he needed an advantage to maintain his employability. He wanted to build on the skills he already had so he decided to go back to school. He worked full-time, Henderson, Adam -Diesel Mechanic.jpgsimultaneously taking classes at LCC that helped him earn a second associate’s degree in Diesel Technology. That significantly expanded his skill set and kept him employed for a few years longer. However, with the downturn in the overall economy, the demise of the RV industry was inevitable, and Adam found himself laid off with hundreds of other workers from his company.

That is when he began participating in the Walmart Brighter Futures Project. With two associate’s degrees already, Adam didn’t think returning to school was the best option for him. However, as a result of his career exploration and labor-market research, he discovered that employers who hire Diesel Mechanics prefer candidates who also have a Class A Commercial Drivers License (CDL) so that they can test drive the trucks and equipment they are working on. For union positions, having a CDL is not just a preference; it is a requirement. Additionally, Adam learned that only 33 percent of all Diesel Technicians actually have a Class A CDL. With support and funding from Walmart Brighter Futures, he worked with a local truck-driving school to complete an accelerated program and passed his CDL test just a few weeks later. To maximize his employability, he also completed computer classes offered through WorkSource Lane in MS Word and MS Excel, and was one of the first in Lane County to receive his National Career Readiness Certificate, a credential demonstrating his basic skill competency.

All of his hard work has paid off, and Adam is currently employed by a family-operated trucking company that has been in business for generations. Adam says that being involved with the Walmart Brighter Futures Project helped keep him motivated. His advice to other participants is to “stick with it, use the resources at hand, and if you can’t find answers right away, keep asking questions.”

Information about the Walmart Brighter Futures Grant for dislocated workers can be found at http://www.lanecc.edu/wdd/walmartgrant.html or by calling WorkSource Lane at (541) 463-5223.


Sinclair Community College

Impacting Academic and Career Pathways for Displaced Workers

With local unemployment levels remaining at near-peak levels, many of the displaced workers who have come to Sinclair Community College have expressed significant concerns about entering the college environment and identifying a new career pathway. The vast majority of these individuals have come from manufacturing backgrounds, with little or no previous college experience and are entering college with at-risk traits.
The Walmart Brighter Futures Project has allowed Sinclair to design a program dedicated to serving displaced workers, with specific attention placed on developing both academic and career advising to equip individuals to re-enter the workforce. Many of the displaced workers are enrolled in degree programs, and those that are participating in grant services are on average being retained at a higher rate and earning higher GPAs. Here are two stories from students that have participated in grant services and recently secured employment.

Todd Sollar was displaced from GM-Moraine and enrolled in an Associates of Applied Science in Automation Control Technology. He described his situation: "Starting college as a displaced worker was very terrifying for me. When I first lost my job at GM after 11 years, I really didn't think there was much hope. Immediately upon registering at Sinclair, I attended a meeting for displaced workers and from then on, things couldn't have turned out better. During the past two years I have come in contact with a number of people that have had a direct impact on my academic and professional career. They have gone above and beyond to make me feel comfortable. I received a displaced-worker scholarship twice, as well as ones from Choose Ohio First and WIA funding. I didn't work at all while going to school, so I was able to spend more time studying than worrying about how to pay for school. I received a job offer on November 1, 2010, from Gosiger as a Junior Electro-Mechanical Technician. Without Sinclair, none of this would have been possible. I cannot even begin to thank everyone who has had such an impact on my life."

Grazina Chaney was displaced from Jamestown Moraine and enrolled in the Pharmacy Technician Certificate. Here is her story: “One of the biggest decisions I have made in my life was going back to school. In December 2008 I was laid off from my job of eight years. A program for displaced workers led me to the opportunity to attend school. On March 30, 2009, I started my journey to a new career at Sinclair Community College. It was new and exciting for me; furthermore, it brought purpose in my life and hope for my future. Today I hold in my hands a Pharmacy Technician Certificate, and within a month of graduation I have secured employment as a Pharmacy Technician at Kindred Hospital. My success was enabled by the knowledgeable faculty who made time for my questions and guided me through my educational program. I am especially thankful for the Displaced Worker personnel, who managed my TRA contract which paid my tuition, who guided me through my resume writing and prepared me for job interview, and who helped me with job search and believed in me.”

St. Louis Community College

Ensuring A Brighter Future for the St. Louis Dislocated Worker

There are many dislocated workers in the St. Louis region who have been given an opportunity to either enhance or gain new skills through the Walmart Brighter Futures Project. The services and resources administered through the grant have proven invaluable to the many dislocated workers that have decided to make St. Louis Community College (STLCC) their training home. This has given dislocated workers the opportunity to retool themselves for existing jobs that require additional skill sets and also new jobs that are being created as the economy recovers. The Walmart Brighter Futures Project Navigators have provided services to over 500 students since February 2010. These services include assistance in program selection, registration, academic advising, financial aid and program planning, and unemployment issues. In addition, the Navigators have provided assistance in résumé writing, interviewing skills, and job placement assistance. St. Louis Community College has continued to build on existing programs and strong workforce partnerships to provide dislocated workers with 21st century skills that are targeted to high-demand, high-growth occupations in our region.

The following are a few examples of dislocated workers who have successfully found employment due to retraining and the assistance of the Walmart Brighter Futures Project.

Success Story 1. Sharon P. was laid off in January 2009 and had been attending school full time since then. She was unemployed for 20 months. Sharon was enrolled in the Walmart Brighter Futures Project and had been attending school to obtain an AAS in Information Systems – Information Systems Coordinator. During Sharon’s final semester, she was offered and accepted a position as an Information Systems Specialist with Sigma-Aldrich, one of the 21st century employers in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Sharon accepted the position making $18.50 per hour, a rate of pay above the medium for this type of position in our region. “Thank you so much for assisting me with my résumé and for the personal recommendation. The recruiter said I did excellent on my tests and the company is very excited to have me. Your assistance was invaluable!”

Success Story 2. Shareese B. was unemployed 10 months prior to obtaining new employment. Shareese graduated from the Patient Care Technician program. The Navigator worked with her to make sure her résumé was complete. Shareese discussed her preference for wanting to work in the mental health care field. She was able to secure an interview and was hired at Mental Health Center – St. Charles as a Patient Care Technician. She is making $9.00 per hour, which is above the medium for this type of position in our region. “I am so excited about my new position. Thanks for supporting all of the students with your positive outlook and friendly assistance. I am finally back to work!”  

Success Story 3.The Navigators held an open house for dislocated workers on October 26, 2010, to introduce current students, as well as dislocated workers, to services available under the Walmart Brighter Futures Project. The American Red Cross was present to identify candidates for employment opportunities. Cindy W., a dislocated worker, participated in this event and soon after landed employment with the American Red Cross as an Administrative Assistant III, earning 9.98 per hour.

We are very excited about providing services that ensure a brighter future for dislocated workers in the St. Louis region. For more information, contact Lesley English-Abram, Project Director, Workforce and Community Development, St. Louis Community College, labram@stlcc.edu, 314-539-5480.


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Miami Dade College

Changing Lives:
The Walmart Brighter Futures Project Back-To-Work Center

Miami Dade College (MDC) is the only community college serving the 2.4 million residents of Miami-Dade County, Florida. MDC is a regional leader in workforce education and training, committed to providing accessible, affordable, high-quality education to its vibrant multicultural community.  The MDC service area was hit hard by the economic recession.  During August 2010, the unemployment rate in Miami-Dade County was 14.4 percent, up 2.8 percentage points from last year.  In August 2010, there were 192,532 unemployed residents in Miami-Dade County.

A timely grant from the Walmart Foundation in partnership with the League for Innovation in the Community College created the opportunity for MDC to establish the Walmart Brighter Futures Project Back-to-Work Center (Center) to support dislocated workers in getting back to work.  The Center is built on best practices in workforce training, practices that have yielded an average 83 percent job placement rate for MDC program completers.  The Center is housed in the Student Services area and connected with the long-standing Displaced Homemaker program, allowing Center staff to capitalize on established relationships and processes that benefit both populations.

Open to all dislocated workers in Miami-Dade County, the Center offers a variety of services, including career exploration, academic advisement, assistance with financial aid applications, and job training, and job search support.  The Center offers financial support to dislocated workers participating in and completing training for re-employment.  Once eligibility is established, Center clients participate in an orientation where they learn about local labor market conditions and career pathways.  Registration assistance is provided to those dislocated workers ready to enroll in training.  Others access in-house training in resume-writing and interviewing skills.  All clients complete a brief online career interest assessment in the Center’s computer lab.

Combining the best practices of two highly successful projects carried out at MDC, the Back-to-Work Center established Service Awards to support dislocated workers participating in cohort training.  Emphasis is placed on “Bright Outlook” occupations; i.e., those occupations that are critical to the local economy and projected to have significant employment opportunities both presently and in the future.  Special focus is given to occupational training programs not covered by federal financial aid, WIA, or ARRA dollars.

The Service Award has three components.  The Initial Award covers tuition, books, and materials.  Upon successful completion of the training, participants receive a Completion Award.  A Job Placement Award is available for participants who obtain unsubsidized employment.  To qualify for service awards, participants must satisfy several requirements, including attending at least one of the Center’s Lunch and Learning seminars, passing all ten modules of FDIC’s online MoneySmart training, and fulfilling a mandatory 16-hour Service Learning project.

Service Award participants are reaping the benefits of a cohort model and experiencing the nourishment produced by a strong social support system.  They have quickly formed strong bonds and developed a sense of alliance with MDC.  Many participants are thinking beyond the immediate and expressing an interest in continuing their education.

Seattle Community Colleges

Helping Dislocated Workers Start and Succeed

The job outlook is improving in Washington state, but unemployment remains high. Thousands of people are out of work, yet employers report difficulty filling jobs because they can’t find skilled workers. While successfully training more dislocated workers is clearly an answer, the challenge is how to help them achieve their educational goals.  With support from the Walmart Brighter Futures Project, the Seattle Community Colleges have developed a new districtwide approach to improve the success of dislocated workers who enroll in technical education programs.  Our approach focuses on the connection and entry points of the student success continuum, steps that are critical to retention and completion. 

Enrollment of dislocated workers is at an all-time high at our four main campuses: Seattle Central Community College, North Seattle Community College, South Seattle Community College, and the Seattle Vocational Institute (SVI).  Over the past year, representatives from campus workforce education programs worked together on a district team to identify ways to improve the retention and completion of dislocated workers.  In consultation with their campus colleagues, the team developed Start Next Quarter, an initiative that allows prospective students to determine their preliminary eligibility for workforce funding online and to participate in a comprehensive two-day planning workshop.

StartNextQuarter.org serves as a portal to this new process.  The online tool covers four common workforce education funding sources: two specific to Washington state—Worker Retraining and Opportunity Grants—and two federal sources—Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Basic Food, Employment and Training. Prospective students benefit from immediate feedback on potential funding and the ability to sign up online for the workshop.  Our workforce partners have begun to use this tool with their clients, and we anticipate that activity to increase over time.  StartNextQuarter.org is modeled on a website developed at a nearby college, Green River Community College.

Education planning workshops provide an in-depth orientation for prospective workforce education students. Two-day college workshops have a common districtwide curriculum that includes an overview of programs of study available at the Seattle Community Colleges, campus resources, career advising, and preparation for placement tests.  Students who participate in the workshops gain a solid understanding of what it means to be a college student, the financial requirements, and available resources.  SVI’s student educational planning process, which has increased program retention and completion, served as the model for this approach. 

Preliminary results for our Start Next Quarter initiative are encouraging.  Students who participated in the educational planning workshops, implemented in summer 2010 for prospective fall quarter students, received more appropriate placements due to the test preparation activities and were less likely to drop out within the first two weeks of the quarter.  StartNextQuarter.org, launched during fall quarter 2010, is already saving administrative time through the online workshop signup feature and automatic email reminders.  The Seattle Community Colleges are assessing the impact of the workshops on retention and completion of new dislocated workers who enroll in technical education programs, with initial data available next spring. 

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Central Piedmont
Community College 

Nothing Beats “One-on-One”

For many years, Charlotte, North Carolina, enjoyed below national average unemployment and above average economic growth.  As the city grew to the second largest financial services hub—second only to New York— a highly educated workforce grew in the Charlotte area.  However, the past two years have challenged Charlotte professionals in ways that are different from many other cities. 

As we all know, the Great Recession has impacted the financial services industry in unprecedented ways.  This impact has presented the Charlotte region with specific challenges.  The face of unemployment has changed in Charlotte as a large percentage of unemployed individuals, including the long-term unemployed, are professionals.  Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) has worked to meet the needs of these individuals, which are very different from individuals seeking blue-collar jobs.

CPCC has a strong reputation as an industry partner in the Charlotte region as well a leader in education.  In the spring of 2009, CPCC also began to work aggressively to meet the needs of dislocated workers in the area.  While state and federal funds provided resources for job training, the Walmart Brighter Futures Grant has provided CPCC with an opportunity to provide services tailored to the needs of professional and paraprofessional job seekers. 

The CPCC Career Professionals Center opened in March of 2010, funded by the Walmart Brighter Futures Grant.  The Center provides job search and career services for both unemployed and underemployed individuals using a competency and assessment-based approach.  Career coaches use a highly individualized approach in working with participants to understand their needs, walk them through an assessment process, and use their assessment data to identify transferable skills.  The goal is to help unemployed and underemployed professionals be as resourceful as possible in identifying their core skills and marketing these skills across industries.

In four months of operation, the Career Professionals Center has provided services to approximately 225 individuals.  Most of these participants have had at least two appointments with the center staff, and  many participants have had more.  To date, one of the most important lessons learned is that these professionals and paraprofessionals want and need one-on-one career coaching.  While resume and interview workshops are always valuable, most job seekers value the opportunity to work individually with an expert.  The content of the sessions varies, from resume review to reviewing certification programs to update or enhance skills, to repositioning a job search after a number of unsuccessful months.  Once the resume is complete and the job search is progressing, some participants value having a phone conversation for feedback and fine-tuning.  The Career Professionals Center works to provide access to services at the level best suited to the individual’s need.

As a part of CPCC's commitment to sustainability, the college has successfully attracted additional corporate sponsorships to support and expand the services offered.  One grant is providing an additional staff member as well as additional scholarships.  Another corporate sponsorship is providing volunteer career coaches to supplement the staff’s ability to provide even more one-on-one sessions.  While the Career Professionals Center will continue to expand workshop offerings, we know that nothing beats one-on-one.

Moraine Valley Community College

Creating Innovative Practices for Quick Workforce Re-entry

Moraine Valley Community College (MVCC) has successfully created innovative practices that help dislocated workers and veterans get education and training to re-enter the workforce quickly. Participants in the college’s Walmart Brighter Futures Project are connected to the services they need almost immediately; can attend specialized orientation sessions, trainings and classes; and will have access to campuswide technology to help move them through the process.

Because the Walmart Brighter Futures Project is designed to provide students with basic workplace skills, the college has approached local business owners to help guide the program. Twelve employers and two student representatives, one for dislocated workers and one for veterans, sit on the Business Advisory Council. These employers are ready to review resumes and hire students at any time.

Businesses also helped to create the curriculum for the 21st Century Job Skills Training. About 300 employers were surveyed to determine which skills are critical to be successful in the 21st century local and global workplace. Students in this condensed training class meet one day a week for seven weeks, with each class focused on one skill identified in the employer survey such as conflict resolution, time management, business etiquette, stress management, and effective communication.

The Walmart Brighter Futures Project already has helped 24 students find employment. One reason these students are successful is because they are quickly connected with the services they need. That commitment to serving dislocated workers and veterans immediately is seen throughout college departments. The testing center provides students with their test results before they leave. Registration and financial aid flag these students so they are not dropped for nonpayment while waiting for grant funds to come through. Even the bookstore has access to the student’s account to see how much money is set aside for books.

Relationships have been created with the local Illinois Department of Employment Security and a Veteran’s Center in Orland Park, IL.  These agencies refer their clients to the college’s Walmart Brighter Futures Project as soon as a need is determined. The college allows them to expedite the application process by completing it over the phone or by email. “Innovation is developing processes that get people where they need to go, and we have created a seamless process,” said Wayde Smith, director of the Walmart Brighter Futures Project at MVCC.

Moraine Valley recognizes that veterans oftentimes have specific needs, and as a result, has developed several resources geared just for them. The veteran student representative on the business advisory council suggested offering a veteran orientation session, which addresses their individual needs and provides information on the GI Bill. MVCC also offers a Veterans in Transition class in lieu of College 101, and has chartered the Combat to College Student Club.

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Lane Community College
Eugene, OR

Preparing Dislocated Workers for the 21st Century Job Market

As our society becomes more firmly entrenched in the Information Age, it also becomes increasingly difficult for dislocated workers to make the transition from traditional job experiences to a more highly technical and complicated workplace. At Lane Community College, with the help of the Walmart Brighter Futures Project, we have developed a model of service delivery focused on providing dislocated workers with resources, information, and support in an easily accessible, user friendly, yet technically sophisticated approach.

Lane Community College has a long history of providing dislocated worker services in a traditional, case-management model, building ongoing, one-on-one relationships between career advisors and participants. Recent policy changes in the state of Oregon, as well as shrinking resources, make that no longer a viable option. A new model must necessarily focus on group delivery of services and high-tech communications methods.

To that end, a menu of workshops has been created, allowing participants access to career coaching and guidance in a group setting. One of the significant benefits of a group process is the development of an informal cohort, which provides support in a manner that could never be accomplished by staff. Workshops range from hands-on assessment and research activities in a computer lab to special topics, such as Overcoming Age Bias and Effective Networking for Jobs.

Communications strategies focus largely on the use of LCC’s web based student portal. This allows for timely messaging, group dissemination of information, and easy access for participants. Additionally, it creates an opportunity for building high-tech skills for those participants with less computer expertise.

The model emphasizes a quality career development process, skill enhancement activities, and instruction in job search skills for a competitive job market. Career development activities result in an individually customized Career Map for each participant. The Career Map is comprehensive, including both short-term and long-term goals, timelines, budgets, and resource options, as well as clearly defined steps for an action plan that leads to skill enhancement. The Career Map is a working tool, adaptable to detours and course corrections.

Skill enhancement activities are as diverse as the individuals in the program, including basic skills development, GED completion, career pathways certificates, and college degrees. There is, however, one fundamental component that is universal to all participants, the Career Readiness Certificate. The CRC is a nationally recognized credential that demonstrates basic skill competency in three areas: reading, math, and locating information.

The implementation of Success Teams is a vital component of this model. Success Teams are ongoing group forums in which participants have the opportunity to raise issues and questions, engage in brainstorming and troubleshooting, and benefit from the experiences and wisdom of the larger group. There are two separate tracks for the Success Teams, one for students and one for job seekers.

The combination of high-tech, timely services with a supportive structure and environment delivers a one-two punch that provides dislocated workers with the competitive edge they need to be successful in today’s challenging economy and competitive job market.

For more information, contact Randa Law, Project Coordinator, Workforce Development Department, Lane Community College, at 541-463-5861 or lawr@lanecc.edu.

Sinclair Community College
Dayton, OH

Moving Displaced Workers Forward for the Future

In a region that has been shaken by 32 consecutive quarters of job losses, Sinclair Community College, located in Dayton, Ohio, is using the Walmart Brighter Futures Project Grant to connect displaced workers with retraining that will move our community into the future. Sinclair’s project uses a holistic approach to serve displaced workers impacted by a reduction in force, workplace closure, or company buyout. In particular, through this project, Sinclair provides a variety of services to assist these individuals move from a state of displacement to secure, fulfilling, and financially viable employment.

For many displaced workers, entering the college environment is a foreign and intimidating process. Due to this, and the fact that they are entering our campuses with many at-risk criteria, Sinclair has implemented a case management approach to serving displaced workers. As a part of this model, Sinclair has hired Displaced Worker Counselors to work with students to ensure they successfully transition into the college environment. To this end, the Displaced Worker Counselors work with individuals to remove barriers to academic success, assist with establishing academic and career goals, and help individuals navigate the career advising process to reenter the workforce.

In essence, many displaced workers are coming to Sinclair at a point in their lives when they are making a major shift in their life expectations, creating a need to designate resources and personnel to help them navigate through the transition from work to college, and ultimately back to work. Core to the grant and the project at Sinclair, two of the major outcomes that are being monitored are interconnected to the case management strategy – retention and GPA success of participating displaced workers.

During winter quarter, 323 self-identified displaced workers received services offered through the Walmart Brighter Futures Project Grant. Of these individuals, 113 were enrolled in degree or certificate programs and 210 participated in pre-enrollment counseling or workshops for spring quarter. Based on retention and GPA data, the enrolled displaced workers who voluntarily engaged in key grant-related services and strategies have a seven percent higher quarter-to-quarter retention rate and an 18 percent higher average GPA than non-participating displaced workers. These are significant results, demonstrating the effectiveness of the case management model with this group of students. The successful academic progression and eventual graduation of displaced workers is an important component in filling the region’s current and future talent pool.

As community colleges, one of our guiding tenets is service to the communities. The Walmart Brighter Futures Project Grantenables Sinclair Community College to help set a pathway for economic success for individuals and our region. By implementing services targeted at the displaced worker population, it is our goal to transform our region from one that has experienced unprecedented job loss to one that is enjoying unprecedented prosperity.

For more information, contact Melissa Tolle, Assistant Director, Strategy Development and Organization, Sinclair Community College, at 937-512-2259 or melissa.tolle@sinclair.edu, or visit www.sinclair.edu/displacedworkers.



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Cuyahoga Community College

Leading Collaboration of Grants

With the national unemployment rate climbing, record numbers of people are looking to community colleges for new job skill training programs. In response to this critical problem, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®), with the generous funding support of the Walmart Foundation and The Cleveland Foundation, is creating the Career Development and Transition Centers at Tri-C, a stronger educational and career support system for area residents affected by the economic recession.

During 2009, Tri-C was honored to be the recipient of two individual grants, both designed to assist dislocated workers in acquiring 21st century job skills and linking them with jobs that require those skills. In June 2009, Tri-C was awarded a six-figure grant from The Cleveland Foundation, and in August 2009, the college was honored to be selected to participate in the Walmart Foundation Brighter Futures Project, receiving $336,500 in grant funds. Tri-C is leading a collaboration of two grants to design and deliver a support system for the region’s unemployed that is comprehensive, effective, and sustainable.

The new Career Development and Transition Centers will expand the capabilities of Tri-C’s existing network of collegewide resources and career services, offering educational support systems to dislocated workers in the community who wish to pursue college degrees or other credentials to support retraining. These much-needed services will assist unemployed individuals with education and career-planning; coaching; adult literacy competency assessments; skills and interests assessments; appropriate academic and technical training programs; job search preparation; entrepreneurial training; and job placement assistance. The college will provide full spectrum transition services to 2,500 dislocated workers over the next three years.

The new Transition Centers will work directly with dislocated workers to eliminate obstacles to gaining higher academic credentials...potential obstacles to sustainable income and growth opportunity. Eric Fingerhut, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, emphasizes the significance of higher academic credentials. He notes that enrollment at Ohio’s public colleges and universities continues to rise as individuals are returning to post-secondary institutions more than ever to enhance career opportunities. The Transition Centers will link students with four-year colleges and universities through transfer agreements, along with academic and financial advising—creating a seamless transition through postsecondary academic programs and technical training.

The future looks brighter for displaced workers who take advantage of the new Career Development and Transition Centers, which will be located at each of the Cuyahoga Community College’s six locations in Northeast Ohio. All centers will provide a full spectrum of educational and career services to accelerate the reemployment prospects of dislocated workers.

With the generous support of The Cleveland Foundation and the Walmart Foundation, Tri-C is doing its part to create new beginnings and to enhance the recovery of our regional economy. 

For more information, contact Treacy Crowley, executive director, Career Development and Transition Centers, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®), at 216-987-2922 or treacy.crowley@tri-c.edu.


St. Louis Community College

Ensuring a Brighter Future for the St. Louis Dislocated Worker

Unemployed St. Louisans who choose to recreate themselves for 21st century careers at St. Louis Community College (STLCC) will get much needed help this year thanks to a $336,258 grant from the Walmart Foundation in partnership with the League for Innovation in the Community College. STLCC was honored to be selected as one of eight community colleges across the country to participate in a two-year demonstration project to provide programs and services to dislocated workers. As part of a national $3.5 million project, the Walmart Brighter Futures Project is aimed at helping dislocated workers acquire contemporary job skills and related employment through increased academic progression, retention, and completion rates.

STLCC is fortunate to have a 30-year legacy of providing services to dislocated workers through its Workforce and Community Development division, having served as a program operator for its local Workforce Investment Boards since 1980. The college now has over 100 staff located in 10 Missouri career centers and local One-Stops, making it the largest Workforce Investment Act provider in the region and one of the largest in the state of Missouri. STLCC is now hoping to utilize its deep array of assets and knowledge to transform its overall services to dislocated workers. “The Walmart grant is providing a unique opportunity for us to apply some of the intelligence we’ve accumulated from literally thousands of career counseling sessions to improve the lifecycle of services to unemployed adult learners, including everything from recruitment and admissions to the many support functions that are so important to academic progression, completion, and job placement,” said Dr. Zelema Harris, chancellor.

To incubate and bring these new innovations to market, the college has created a Dislocated Worker Taskforce consisting of the vice chancellor of Workforce and Community Development, the vice chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs, campus presidents, campus vice presidents of Student Affairs, and the directors of Enrollment Management and Career and Technical Education, along with representatives from Technology and Educational support services. At the strategic level, this taskforce is charged with identifying opportunities for accelerated programs; reviewing policies, procedures, and processes that impact enrollment, retention, and completion by dislocated workers; and facilitating cross-department communications and services.

Early planning conversations include innovations aimed at developing: a) an integrated admissions process to capture common information on different cohorts of dislocated workers including credit and non-credit learners; b) system enhancements to facilitate common tracking and case management of dislocated workers as they progress toward their education and career goals; 3) new instructional models to combine basic skills and occupational curriculum in an integrated, contextualized framework; and 4) condensed career and technical programs to accelerate the retraining and reemployment of dislocated workers.

If successful, these innovations will pay socioeconomic dividends in a region working passionately and skillfully to rebound from the worst recession since the Great Depression. The role of the community college is of paramount importance to ensure a brighter future for dislocated workers and the overall economic recovery of the region.

For more information, contact Lesley English-Abram, manager, Employment and Training Center, Division of Workforce and Community Development, St. Louis Community College, at 314-539-5480 or labram@stlcc.edu.


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For more information on how this project can help your community college,

contact Larry Warford, project director and League senior workforce consultant,

at 541-913-6006 or Warford@league.org.