The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Jobs to Careers (J2C) program recently got a shot in the arm from President Obama’s new project—the Community College Challenge Fund, part of the American Graduation Initiative. J2C works with employers and colleges to help frontline health care workers obtain undergraduate degrees and career training.
“Not since the passage of the original GI Bill and the work of President Truman’s Commission on Higher Education—which helped double the number of community colleges and increase by sevenfold enrollment in those colleges—have we taken such a historic step on behalf of community colleges in America,” President Obama said.
The Challenge Fund will accomplish its goals by increasing federal funding for community colleges to increase their effectiveness and graduation rates. “The president’s assessment of the importance of these educational institutions is a good one,” said Maria Flynn, director of J2C and vice president of Jobs for the Future. “The shifts we are witnessing in the U.S. economy are transformative and require bold, new responses.”
Community colleges are the critical link between the J2C program and health care industry employers. They make the J2C program possible by creating innovative curriculums designed to allow frontline health care workers to earn degrees and develop new skills through work-based learning and worksite education programs. The Challenge Fund will help colleges offer these students increased financial and academic resources.
“J2C’s work-based learning approach represents a new way to meet the needs of workers and the demands of the market place. I’m hopeful this model can be scaled-up through the investments of the American Graduation Initiative,” Flynn said.
RWJF collaborates with The Hitachi Foundation and the U.S. Department of Labor to fund J2C. Jobs for the Future, a Boston-based not-for-profit advocacy organization, manages the national program.