Posted on Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Virginia is Workforce-Wednesdayin a position to have a profound impact on job skills training for The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment & Training (SNAP E&T) recipients thanks to a recent $22.4 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) is the recipient of the grant, working alongside key partners – Virginia’s Community Colleges, Virginia Department of Education, Office of Adult Education and Literacy and The Literacy Institute at VCU.

The grants are intended to help states test new programs that put participants in SNAP-ET back to work. In Virginia and across the country, SNAP helps low-income families obtain access to nutritious foods and serves as the first line of defense against hunger. Last month, 856,500 Virginians received SNAP benefits.

Virginia’s Community Colleges — Danville, Patrick Henry, Piedmont, Southside Virginia, Tidewater, Thomas Nelson and Virginia Highland — will pilot a program that will allow 3,760 eligible SNAP E&T program recipients to earn workforce credentials.

Workforce credentials include certifications, apprenticeships, occupational licenses and college certificates. There will be a focus on credentials that lead to high-demand occupations.

Virginia’s pilot program will have three approaches: a hybrid online learning lab with instructor-led workshops, job readiness and training leading to a certificate or certification, and a longer-term integrated basic education and training program, all of which draw from evidence-based strategies.

This model builds on a successful program that VDSS has already been funding at three Virginia community colleges for more than 10 years.

These efforts will support Virginia’s Community Colleges goal of awarding no fewer than 114,000 by the year 2021, as well as Governor McAuliffe’s goal for Virginia to award 500,000 business driven certifications and licenses by 2030.

Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones (shown above) announced the grant last week, alongside state workforce leaders. The full press release is available here.

Achristopher@vccs.edu'

Amanda Christopher

Amanda Christopher is a graduate of Hollins University and Virginia Commonwealth University. A native of the DC metro area, Amanda worked in public relations for the American Red Cross before joining the Virginia Community College System as the Workforce Communications Coordinator.

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