According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than one in five Hartford and Tolland County residents between the ages of 16 and 24 were unemployed from 2010 to 2014. In response to these extremely high levels of unemployment among low-income adults, particularly young people, Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) is enhancing its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) Employment and Training Program to provide high-need students with training and additional support to complete their program of study and obtain a job. Since it began in 2014, the program has enrolled more than 300 students. Of the 150 who have successfully completed the SNAP Employment and Training Program at ACC to date, nearly three quarters of the students obtained a job. Eighty-nine students are still enrolled in classes or working on externships.
“While these results are promising, the consensus among area workforce development deans at our community colleges is that the missing link to better serving high need students and increasing their success, is to provide targeted case management services, job placement and retention services, and computer literacy training,” said Eileen Peltier, Dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at Asnuntuck.
More students will receive access to these vital supports thanks to a three-year, $227,600 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. The grant will complement resources provided by Asnuntuck and the Connecticut Department of Social Services to increase access for low-income students eligible for SNAP benefits to post-secondary certificate programs in growing industries. The grant will partially support a full-time Success Coach to work with SNAP Employment and Training Program students, provide student support funds, and develop and implement a computer literacy class.
The new Success Coach will work with 25 high-need Asnuntuck students to help with academic issues or other challenges that may prevent program completion, as well as to provide support in securing a job and keeping the job during the first critical months after job placement. Asnuntuck is unique in that it offers free, collaborative childcare and free transportation on a local shuttle bus to all of its students, credit and non-credit. Program students also will receive priority access to a new computer literacy course, with remaining seats open to other Asnuntuck students. Under SNAP Employment and Training, eligible SNAP recipients receive scholarships that cover the costs of vocational training programs. In turn, the Department of Social Services reimburses Asnuntuck half of the cost.
The SNAP Employment and Training Program is administered by DSS, which supported Asnuntuck’s grant application to the Foundation. The program expands higher education access to low-income students and increases the potential to secure jobs with solid wages. Further information is at www.ct.gov/dss/snap, scroll to ‘Employment & Training – Your Path to Employment.’
The 14 training programs to be offered to 80 to 100 SNAP scholarship students at Asnuntuck in 2017-18 are in high-growth industries where jobs are available. Certificate programs include Certified Medical Administrative Assistant, Professional Medical Biller & Coder, Dental Assistant, Certified Pharmacy Technician, Massage Therapist and CNC machining, among others. Students range in age from 18 to 64, and currently 35 percent are minorities. The project will engage nonprofits and other partners to recruit applicants for the new Success Coach who will serve a diverse student population.
“Providing greater opportunities for job training and education are major facets of the Hartford Foundation’s strategic plan. We are working to remove significant barriers to employment, to provide greater economic security to Greater Hartford residents, and to nurture talent for the region’s employers,” said Judy McBride, senior program officer at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. “Our collaboration with Asnuntuck Community College and the Department of Social Services is a wonderful example of how we can provide the supports and resources necessary to give low-income residents the tools they need to obtain good jobs and support themselves and their families. “
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. In 2015, the Foundation celebrates 90 years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families, and organizations. It has awarded grants of more than $630 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.