Strada Invests $8 Million in Innovative Projects Connecting Education to Employment

By Daryl Graham

Senior Vice President, Philanthropy, Strada Education Network

In our mission to improve the pathway between education and employment, Strada Education Network is dedicated to leveraging the most up-to-date research to inform our philanthropic decisions, based on what’s working, what deserves a chance to prove itself, and what has the greatest potential to scale and make real progress. That’s why I’m so pleased to announce today our latest grants to seven innovative projects.

These three-year awards, totaling more than $8 million, are the result of a competitive application process in which we evaluated hundreds of ideas and funding requests from promising programs across the country. The recipients, all of whom leverage partnerships between postsecondary educators, employers, and community organizations dedicated to helping students succeed in school and in the workplace, are:

  • Bay Path University: $1.6 million to support training for low-income, working adult women in digital technologies through the University’s American Women’s College’s SOUL model.
  • Code Nation (formerly ScriptEd): $1.5 million to deliver tuition-free classes, mentoring, paid internships and other work-based learning experiences to high school students from low-income families and support more than 300 volunteer software engineers and web developers working with these students in Greater New York City, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay area.
  • San Diego Workforce Partnership: $1.14 million to expand a highly successful year-long pilot program by placing 500 adult and working learners, low-income students, first-generation students, those from underrepresented populations (Hispanic/Latino) and military veterans in skills-based training in collaboration with the University of California San Diego.
  • Commonwealth Corporation Foundation: $1.01 million to launch at least nine new online learning programs in healthcare, IT and advanced manufacturing that will form a statewide system of learning for working adults and opportunity youth in Massachusetts.
  • George Mason University: $1 million to redesign the education-to-career journey through ADVANCE Program Career Accelerator, which provides students with clear articulation of education-to-employment pathways, built-in work-based experiences, and personalized support at the University, in partnership with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA).
  • Community Education Coalition: $997,000 to expand this Indiana-based nonprofit and support workforce training for adult learners, expansion of Ivy Tech Community College Information Technology programs, and college/career success strategies to improve education outcomes connected to well-paying industry sectors, with specific supports for low-income adults and Southeast Indiana’s growing Latino population.
  • Oregon State University: $774,000 to create six additional experiential career prep courses, engaging 450 employers to provide mentoring, internships, career advising, curriculum development and course evaluation through an expanded College of Business career preparation program.

All of these awards go to projects that demonstrate the characteristics Strada has identified – through extensive consumer insights research with Gallup as well as research by the Strada Institute for the Future of Work — as crucial to effective education-workforce collaboration:

    • Hands-on partnerships with multiple employers, community advocates, policymakers and educators to leverage expertise in skills-based curriculum development, mentoring, professional networking and internships;
    • Curriculum improvements incorporating real-world experience to equip students with the human and technical workplace skills they need to succeed while enabling employers to build a strong talent pipeline for the future;
    • Preparation for jobs in high-demand career pathways to ensure seamless transitions from school to work; and
    • Commitment to adult learners, underrepresented populations, low-income and first-generation students without postsecondary credentials.

At the end of the three-year grant period, which runs Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2021, the goal is to produce solid solutions that connect students to high-demand, rewarding careers – solutions that can be adopted and scaled by colleges, universities, entrepreneurs, cities and community organizations – all working together to help students identify and succeed in fulfilling careers as we improve our postsecondary institutions, strengthen our talent pipeline, and move our communities forward.

We thank these new partners – and all of those who engaged with us over the past year to offer your ideas on strengthening school-work connections. We are looking forward to supporting and sharing your success over the next three years!

To learn more about our grantees, please read the press release or visit our website.