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February 2017 Newsletter

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Adult Education and Literacy Grant Opportunities

On March 15, 2017, the Iowa Department of Education, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation will be releasing a request for proposals for a three-year federal grant opportunity to provide services to develop, implement and improve adult education and literacy services in Iowa. The term “adult education and literacy” means academic instruction and education services below the post-secondary level that increases an individual’s ability to read, write, and speak in English and perform mathematics or other activities necessary for the attainment of a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent allowing them to transition to postsecondary education and training, and obtain employment. These grant funded awards include: (1) Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education (WIOA sec. 243); (2) Adult Education and Literacy, English as a Second Language and High School Equivalency Diploma programs (WIOA sec. 231);  and (3) Corrections, Prison/Institutionalized Adult Education and Literacy (WIOA sec. 225).

Eligible agencies, having demonstrated effectiveness in providing adult education and literacy activities, that may apply include: local education agencies (school districts), community-based organizations; faith-based organizations; volunteer literacy organizations of either institutions of higher education, public or private nonprofit agencies; libraries; public housing authorities; nonprofit institutions that have not previously been listed as having the ability to provide adult education literacy and services to eligible adults; a consortium or coalition of the agencies; institutions; libraries or authorities; or a partnership between an employer and an entity described above.

In the last program year (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016), federally funded agencies served 17,771 eligible individuals and of those, enrolled 12,378 as participants in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Title II activities. 5,453 participants achieved a measurable skill gain, often reflected as an increase in one or two grade levels. Additionally, 1,866 High School Equivalency Diplomas were issued. One of the purposes of the request for proposal and use of federal funds is to achieve continuous quality improvement aimed at increasing the participation rate, providing high quality instruction, and demonstrating a high rate of skill gain through benchmark performance. Application materials, policies, and criteria for submitting proposals will be made available on the Department’s Adult Education website at the Department's Adult Education website. Completed applications will be submitted electronically through Iowagrants and due to the Department by 5:00 p.m. on May 1, 2017, to be eligible for 2017-2020 funding. Award announcements will be made in June. Questions should be directed to Alex Harris, State Director for Adult Education and Literacy, alex.harris@iowa.gov.

Meet Jon Núñez,Adult Education and Literacy Coordinator at Iowa Valley Community College District

John How long have you been a Coordinator for Adult Education?  I have been the coordinator since December 1st but I was Interim Director since the middle of June. Before being in the Director role, I was the Assessment and Retention Specialist for IVCCD for around 8 years. Between coaching soccer, teaching ESL and administration, I have been with the college district for a total of 10 to 11 years. 

Tell us one thing you enjoy about your job/position.  I enjoy helping people reach their goals, whether it’s improving their English Language skills or attaining their HSED.

Tell us about yourself – family, pets, spare time/hobbies.  I have been married to my High School sweetheart for 8 years, we have 3 beautiful children, Chris 9, Kaylee 5 and Alana 2. We have two dogs and a turtle as pets. We enjoy the outdoors, camping, hunting and fishing. I also enjoy playing disc golf, soccer and watching my son play soccer. 

Do you speak any languages other than English?  My first language is Spanish, I learned to speak English when I was 10 years old. 

Tell us about your best vacation  Hawaii for sure.

What is your best piece of advice?  Stick with it, the hardest part is deciding to start. This goes for ESL and HSED classes.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?  Europe, I would love to visit all of the major soccer stadiums.
 
What was your dream job growing up?  Growing up I always wanted to be an Engineer, I attended several summer engineering summer camps at ISU.

One-Stop Future Ready Iowa Website Unveiled

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A new resource is available to help Iowans review and evaluate different career opportunities in the state and pan their path to landing a rewarding job.

Launched last month by Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, the new Future Ready Iowa website is a result of the collaborate efforts between many state agencies, including Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa Department of Education, and the Iowa College Student Aid Commission.

The Future Ready Iowa initiative aims to align education, workforce and economic development efforts with the goal for 70 percent of the workforce to have education or training beyond high school by the year 2025. Less than half the workforce does now. The Future Ready Iowa Alliance is charged with making policy recommendations by Oct. 31, 2017, on how to reach the 70 percent goal.

To aid in reaching that goal, the Future Ready Iowa website is a one-stop shop where students and adults can find high-demand career opportunities in Iowa, identify education and training needed as well as financial resources that may be available. More information about career pathways will be added in coming months. The Future Ready Iowa website is an important tool to help close the skills gap so more Iowans can have great career opportunities and employers can hire enough skilled workers they need to grow and innovate,” said Branstad. “The website also promises to serve as a recruiting tool for the state by showcasing the outstanding education, training and jobs available in Iowa.” Providing one easily accessible place to find information about education, training and high-demand jobs will enhance Iowans’ quality of life and promote economic growth in communities across the state,” said Reynolds, who serves as co-chair of the Future Ready Iowa Alliance with Dan Houston, chairman, president and CEO of Principal Financial Group. “The website will be useful for everyone considering their future career plans from high school students to adults already in the workforce to unemployed Iowans.” The mobile-friendly site features a clearly defined menu that makes navigation easy for users to discover what advanced knowledge or technical skills are required for the careers of today and tomorrow, and where those jobs are located in Iowa. For example, the Career Coach tool features career exploration resources using information on high-demand jobs. It was very important to incorporate geographical features into the website so that when job seekers are researching career paths they can have accurate information based on their exact location,” said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development. “The website uses Labor Market Information to identify the number of jobs, the average median income and what training is necessary.” More information on the Future Ready Iowa Alliance can be accessed on the Iowa Department of Education’s website. The Future Ready Iowa Website is live and can be accessed at Future Ready Iowa. 

Expanding Possibilities: Adult Education and Literacy Virtual Conference

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Photo of the Expanding Possibilities:Adult Education and Literacy Virtual Conference

The Expanding Possibilities: Adult Education and Literacy Virtual Conference has concluded. The conference had a total of 144 registered participants and had sessions on incorporating technology into the classroom to working with limited literacy students. Our speakers consisted of statewide leaders in adult education and leaders from California, Ohio, Kentucky and Washington. Special thanks to the planning committee and  Marcela Hermosillo, Education Consultant for her leadership in the development of the first virtual conference. Below are comments from conference attendees:

  • The links to online resources were very helpful because that's what I'm looking for right now as I develop an online curriculum. The perspective you get from learning from other educators is invaluable; I got an idea of the bigger picture. (I'm relatively new to adult ed.)
  •  I appreciate being able to attend a conference while in my home, especially since it we were experiencing a snow storm.
  •  The zoom meeting venue is certainly convenient, and I am grateful that Iowa DOE can utilize this platform. I suggest its use again in the future. 
  • Thank you for organizing this event It was a wonderful first virtual conference. I was impressed with the overall topics covered and how smoothly it ran. Thank you for all the hard work put in to organizing and making the first virtual conference such a success. I will participate in the next one!

The sessions and resources can be accessed via Expanding Possibilities: Adult Education and Literacy Virtual Conference.

Persons with a Disability Have Significant Unmet Employment Needs: Learn About Resources Available

Disability affects hundreds of millions of families worldwide.In fact 1 in 6 Americans identify as having at least one diagnosed disability. Persons with a disability are among the individuals which face the greatest challenges to economic self-sufficiency. Persons with a disability have significant unmet employment needs. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) only 17% of adults with a disability have some level of employments. This is in contrast to the 65% of adults without a disability which have some level of employment. In addition, across all levels of education; persons with a disability had an educational attainment rate of approximately 1/3 the rate of persons with a disability (BLS). In the end; this means that persons with a disability have a complicated journey through education and employment. In order to best serve these individuals; a team approach is required and vital team members are the professionals of Iowa Workforce Development (IWD).  

Through the offices of IWD; all persons in our state (including persons with a disability) can receive assistance with achieving their education and employment. IWD provides services through a variety of supports and services. First are the “Basic” Career Services provided through all the field offices; called “IowaWorks” locations statewide. Basic Career Services include: access to computers, copiers, and phones for job-searching, job-matching and job referrals, information on in-demand jobs across the local region and the state; as well as an ongoing series of Work Readiness Workshops. Each local office maintains a monthly calendar of workshops and work readiness activities design to increase the employability of individuals accessing the Center. While some workshops vary from region to region; but common workshops include assistance with resume and cover letter development, how to prepare for and complete and effective career search strategy and workshops related to interviewing and negotiating with employers; as well as assessments to assist the individual in developing their career plan.

For those individuals who need assistance with entering their chosen career pathway through education; the Workforce Centers office assistance with education and training. These services are provided to two (2) eligibility groups: Dislocated Workers and Low-Income Adults. Dislocated Workers are individuals who have lost their job through no fault of their own. This is most often defined as a person who is receiving or has exhausted their unemployment benefits. The Low-Income Adult population; are individuals who are at least 18 and whose household is low income. Recipients of SSI, FIP or SNAP (Food Stamps) are automatically considered low-income. If an individual does not receive any of these benefits; then there household is evaluated. A person with a disability who falls into either category can access assistance and funding in to complete a credential in order to assistance with their employment. The services provided to individuals pursing assistance with education and training include: assistance with tuition, books and fees, transportation reimbursement, assistance with childcare costs and assistance with job placement once training has been completed. The amount of funding which is available will vary depending on each local region.

While IWD strives to integrate services for persons with a disability into the service delivery system designed to assist all customers. There are also programs which are specifically intended for persons with a disability. Chief among these services is the Ticket to Work (TtW) program. Ticket to Work is a program offered through Social Security to support the career development of individuals who received either SSDI and/or SSI and are between the ages 18 and 64 who want to work. While the Ticket to Work program is both free and voluntary; it offers many benefits to assist an individual progress toward financial independence. Through the field offices of IWD; an individual can obtain assistance with benefits planning or understanding how employment may impact a person’s cash benefits and insurance. Individuals also receive protection from Continuing Disability Review (CDR) based on work; as well as having access to services and supports intended to assist individuals with obtaining and maintaining employment. In addition; persons with a disability who successfully participate in Ticket to Work earn funds from the Social Security Administration to be used to assist other persons with a disability reach their economic self-sufficiency.

While Ticket to Work services are available in every IowaWorks field office across the state of Iowa; in five (5) specific regions; additional assistance is also available through the Disability Employment Initiative or DEI. The DEI project is tasked with expanding the capacity of the workforce system to better serve job seekers with disabilities by: (a) improving training and employment of persons with disabilities; (b) building effective partnerships to better serve persons with disabilities; and (c) expanding the Social Security Ticket to Work (TTW) Program. In the regionally offices located in Spencer, Waterloo, Des Moines, Sioux City and Burlington; and specialized staff person called a Disability Resource Coordinator (DRC) is available to assist persons with a disability access not only the traditional supports and services available in the Workforce Centers; but also may have additional expertise and resources which can any individual whom either receives SSDI and/or SSI benefits or self-attests as experiencing a disability. Also; across and IWD programs and services individual are not only allowed; but are encouraged to access assistance from Workforce and community partners such Vocational Rehabilitation, the Department for the Blind, Adult Education and Literacy, Community Case Management, Goodwill Industries, Easter Seals and any other agencies simultaneously to create an integrated resource team. Through the use of the multitude of skills and programs at hand; IWD hopes to increase the opportunities for all persons with a disability. 

For additional questions please contact:

Brian Dennis at 515-725-3666 (DEI)

Sheila Stoeckel at 641-422-1524 (Ticket to Work)

Starting All Over Again - Gabi's Story



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