OVAE Connection -- March 17, 2011
Archived Information

U.S. Secretary of Education Announces Priorities for Promise Neighborhoods Grants

On March 10, 2011, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan submitted a Federal Register Notice announcing the Department of Education's proposed priorities for the Promise Neighborhoods Program. The proposed priorities for the competition are now available for public comment through April 11, 2011, and include both planning and implementation grants. The level and allocation of funds among the grant types are contingent upon the final Fiscal Year 2011 budget.

The competitive grants provide funds to design comprehensive approaches for addressing challenges faced by students living in communities with concentrated poverty. Promise Neighborhoods projects are intended to support organizations that have a strategy for building a continuum of solutions, and have the capacity to achieve results for this population. The solutions must be designed to improve significantly the educational and developmental outcomes of children and youths from birth through college and a career. Under the proposed priorities, nonprofits, institutions of higher education and Indian tribes would be eligible for grants.

We encourage interested parties to review Proposed Implementation Grant Priority 8: Family Engagement in Learning Through Adult Education—a priority for applicants with plans that are coordinated with adult education providers serving neighborhood residents, such as those funded through the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, as amended—given in the full list of proposed grant planning priorities.

Six BMENA Entrepreneurship Planning Grants Awarded

Higher Education for Development (HED), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, has announced the six higher education partnerships selected to participate in the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) - U.S. Community College Entrepreneurship Proposal Development Grants competition. The awards, of up to $60,000 each for a six-month period, will support collaborating institutions in developing long-term partnerships of not less than three years to strengthen the capacity of BMENA partner institutions through the promotion of entrepreneurship. The partnership proposals developed through these six-month planning grants will be submitted to HED at the conclusion of the grant period. Through a peer review process, HED will evaluate the proposals and rank them for consideration for implementation funding by USAID.

For more information and a list of the participating institutions, visit the HED website:

New Resource Available on State Strategies to Connect Low-Skilled Students to Employer-Valued Postsecondary Education

A postsecondary education continues to be one of the most important factors in securing stable employment and advancing in the workforce. For each year of postsecondary education, an adult is more likely to be employed, earn adequate wages to support a family, lead a healthier life, and have children who are better prepared to succeed in school. Postsecondary education is defined broadly to include a variety of credentials, such as associate and bachelor's degrees, and industry-recognized certificates. It is projected that by 2018, two-thirds of jobs will require a postsecondary education, and yet, if current trends continue, the nation will fall short of this demand by 3 million postsecondary graduates.

As the nation directly benefits from a more educated workforce, the government's investments in education at all levels have been shown to produce good returns and therefore to be a sound use of public funds. While critical federal programs, such as funding for student aid and job training, can help lower-skilled adults and youths access postsecondary education, important policy choices can also be made at the state and local levels that support success for these individuals. Some of the state-level innovations currently in place include: instructional strategies that provide a strong foundation in occupational skills required for jobs in the local economy; acceleration strategies designed to help students progress further and quicker in education and training programs than via traditional approaches; and funding formulas, assessment policies, and other administrative policies that provide adults and youths with pathways to better jobs through postsecondary education.

Striking commonalities have been shown to exist across most of these promising innovations: they are based on best-practice findings from programs at the state and local levels; they can be connected with the needs of industries; and. most importantly, they bridge the gap separating local silos from state education and training systems. For more information, please access the full report, Beyond Basic Skills: State Strategies to Connect Low-Skilled Students to an Employer-Valued Postsecondary Education, from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). The report details strategies that can be used to strengthen connections between basic skills education and postsecondary education, with the goal of helping lower-skilled adults and out-of-school youths attain the postsecondary credentials they need to advance in the labor market.

Mary Jane Bagwell Is Oregon's New Director for Adult Basic Skills Education

Mary Jane Bagwell has been appointed director for adult basic skills (ABS) education at the Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development (CCWD). Bagwell previously served as an ABS education leadership specialist for CCWD. She has led several initiatives within the state, including the development and implementation of the Oregon ABS Learning Standards and the Oregon Pathways for Adult Basic Skills Transition to Education and Work program, an initiative she will continue to lead in her new position.

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Last Modified: 08/15/2013