The Peralta Community College District recently was awarded a $2.9 million U.S. Department of Labor Community-based Job Training Grant to be distributed over three years. The grant was created to strengthen the community colleges’ ability to educate workers with necessary skills required for employment in high growth and demand industries by encouraging partnerships between colleges, employers and community agencies.
Jeanette Dong, director of Workforce and Resource Development for the Peralta district said Merritt College will administer the program as the Peralta Achievement Collaborative. She said the grant - awarded in June - provides funding for people to train for jobs at Merritt College and receive support services from local agencies.
At least 300 participants will be trained at Merritt for jobs in green construction and energy management, transportation and logistics, allied healthcare and human services. About 50 percent of the trainees will be formerly incarcerated individuals. The remainder will include dislocated workers, the long-term unemployed and those with limited English proficiency.
Dr. Eric Gravenberg, vice president of student services at Merritt College, said the collaborative will take the next four to six months to meet with steering and advisory committees to ensure that all proposal points are met, build and maintain trust with partners and establish a transparent organization.
He acknowledged there is a lot to coordinate between the partners. Laughing, Gravenberg said, “We know they can sing, we want them to harmonize.”
The group plans to work with the agencies on outreach and recruitment. Gravenberg said the agencies will continue to provide support to the trainees when necessary, such as housing, food and uniforms.
The committees will decide on procedures for assessing participant’s academic skills, career evaluations, specific job training and math and language curriculum. He said he expects the first participants to be enrolled next January or February.
According to Gravenberg, the collaborative has partnered with several community agencies including Allen Temple, Berkeley Youth Alternatives, Men of Valor Academy and Oakland Private Industry Council Inc.
Gravenberg said the proposal couldn’t have been submitted without the endorsement of local industries prepared to employ program graduates like Give Something Back in Oakland. Mike Hannigan, president of Give Something Back, said for years, the business product supply company has been working with Alameda Transportation and Logistics Academic Support - a partnership organization between the College of Alameda, the Workforce Collaborative and Oakland Adult and Career Education.
“It’s a good business decision to get the best skilled labor,” Hannigan said. “Forty percent of our workers came from job development programs.”
Hannigan said the company’s goal is to assist the Peralta Achievement Collaborative set up the logistics and transportation training programs and then employ graduates. He said his company’s name reflects its mission - all profits are donated to charitable organizations. Hannigan said this is another way of giving back to the community.
Gravenberg said the goal is to not just put people to work, but to place them on a sustainable career path.
“A more definitive list of partners will be provided after the steering committee meets in the next couple of weeks,” Gravenberg said.
Read more about the grant here.