Community Colleges: The Secret Sauce


By Secretary Thomas E. Perez

Motlow State Community College in Tennessee is working with Bridgestone Tire Company and other employers to expand their mechatronics program, creating a training facility on-site at Bridgestone to prepare students to move quickly into high-skill jobs.

Estrella Mountain Community College is leading a consortium of five Arizona colleges to develop the workforce and talent pipeline required by the region's energy and mining industries.

Bellevue College in Washington state, together with eight other schools, is launching a program to train veterans and their eligible spouses in the high-demand, high-wage field of health information technology.

All three of these efforts - and many more - are the result of a bold, unprecedented investment the Obama administration has made to expand job-driven training at community colleges nationwide.

The program is called TAACCCT -- that stands for Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training. As acronyms go, I'm not going to say it's our very best work. But as a commitment to building a 21st century workforce, as a tool to prepare people for the jobs of today and tomorrow, it is second-to-none.

Today, I joined Vice President Biden at the White House for the announcement of the fourth round of TAACCCT grants -- 71 of them in all, worth a total of more than $450 million. That comes on top of the nearly $1.5 billion awarded in the first three rounds. With today's announcement, roughly 700 colleges nationwide have received TAACCCT funding since 2011.

I've seen these grants and the programs they support in action. I saw it last year with Dr. Jill Biden when we traveled to a community college in North Carolina to tour their state-of-the-art program in critical infrastructure. The same day we hopped down to South Florida where another TAACCCT grantee has a top-notch aviation institute.

Most importantly, these grants change lives. Joining us at the White House today was Gary Pollard, a former Army medic who is starting a $60,000-a-year job thanks to cyber technology instruction he received through TAACCCT-supported programs at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) in Maryland. Last year when I visited the college, I met both Gary and Ginny Quillen, a woman who's faced considerable challenges in her life. Ginny was abused as a child; she was involved with drugs and served time. But through hard work and resilience, she's overcome the adversity. And with the Information Assurance and Security certificate she earned at AACC, today she makes $52,000 a year in a job she loves and a field she's passionate about.

No one receives a TAACCCT grant without putting industry partnerships front-and-center. The idea is to align curriculum with the needs of businesses - so ready-to-work Americans can move right into ready-to-be filled jobs. When employers go to hire graduates of these programs, they can have confidence in the relevance of the credential...because they helped design the credential.

What we're doing is creating a foundation with a lasting impact. This is a Dwight Eisenhower moment -- TAACCCT is to our skills infrastructure what the interstate highway system was to our physical infrastructure. President Eisenhower took the long view some 60 years ago and invested in the building blocks that continue to power our economy to this day. And decades from now, our grandchildren will benefit from the on-ramps to college and the off-ramps to middle-class jobs that we're constructing today.

Community colleges are incubators of innovation and opportunity. They are the secret sauce of workforce development, empowering communities, strengthening businesses and invigorating local economies. Today, we're not just investing in new facilities, technologies or classroom tools; we're investing in people's highest and best dreams. And we're investing not just in today's needs, but in American prosperity for generations to come.

Related Topics: Jobs, Skills, Economy, Education, Arizona, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee

- Issue: Jobs & Skills-



Human Rights News

West Wing Week: 09/26/14


This week, the President unveiled the "It's on Us" campaign, signed the America's Promise Summit Declaration, and headed to New York City for the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Friday, September 19 - The President and the Vice President launched "It's On Us," a public awareness and education campaign that works to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.

Monday, September 22 - The President signed the America's Promise Summit Declaration, which calls on citizens to help the youth of America reach their full potential.

​Tuesday, September 23 - The President and the First Lady traveled to New York City for the 69th Session of the United Nation's General Assembly. Then, the President addressed the Climate Summit 2014. Later, the President stopped by the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting.

Wednesday, September 24 - President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly. That afternoon, the President chaired a Security Council summit addressing an international response to foreign terrorist fighters before stopping by a meeting of the Open Government Partnership.

Thursday, September 25 - At the United Nations, the President spoke about the humanitarian response to the Ebola epidemic in Africa.

Economic News

Political Parties

democratic party symbol

Democratic Party Platform


September 30, 2014, Tuesday 2:52 p.m.

Issue - Cities

Cities and Metro Areas. Cities and metro areas are a vital part of the American community and are incubators of innovation and job creation. Cities and metro areas represent over 80 percent of this country's gross domestic product and 80 percent of this country's population. We are committed to supporting and revitalizing these communities around the country.

Republican Party Symbol

Republican Party Platform

Infrastructure: Building the Future

September 30, 2014, Tuesday 2:52 p.m.

Issue - Taxes & Spending

America's infrastructure networks are critical for economic growth, international competitiveness, and national security. Infrastructure programs have traditionally been non-partisan; everyone recognized that we all need clean water and safe roads, rail, bridges, ports, and airports. The current Administration has changed that, replacing civil engineering with social engineering as it pursues an exclusively urban vision of dense housing and government transit. In the vaunted stimulus package, less than six percent of the funds went to transportation, with most of that to cosmetic "shovel-ready" projects rather than fundamental structural improvements. All the while, the Democrats' Davis-Bacon law continues to drive up infrastructure construction and maintenance costs for the benefit of that party's union stalwarts. What most Americans take for granted-the safety and availability of our water supply-is in perilous condition. Engineering surveys report crumbling drinking water systems, aging dams, and overwhelmed wastewater infrastructure. Investment in these areas, as well as with levees and inland waterways, can renew communities, attract businesses, and create jobs. Most importantly, it can assure the health and safety of the American people.

Libertarian Party Symbol

Libertarian Party Platform

2.2 Environment

September 30, 2014, Tuesday 2:52 p.m.

Issue - Climate

We support a clean and healthy environment and sensible use of our natural resources. Private landowners and conservation groups have a vested interest in maintaining natural resources. Pollution and misuse of resources cause damage to our ecosystem. Governments, unlike private businesses, are unaccountable for such damage done to our environment and have a terrible track record when it comes to environmental protection. Protecting the environment requires a clear definition and enforcement of individual rights in resources like land, water, air, and wildlife. Free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems. We realize that our planet's climate is constantly changing, but environmental advocates and social pressure are the most effective means of changing public behavior.


U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Is Stepping Down After Six-Year Tenure


In remarks from the White House State Dining Room this afternoon, President Obama announced that Eric Holder will be stepping down from his current position as U.S. Attorney General.

Assuming office in February 2009, Holder's nearly six-year tenure makes him one of the longest-serving Attorney Generals in U.S. history. He will continue to serve as Attorney General until the President nominates his successor, and the successor is confirmed by the Senate.

As the President noted, Holder's career in public service "began nearly 40 years ago as a young prosecutor in the Department that he now runs." Over his career, Holder has served at the Department of Justice under six U.S. presidents -- including serving as acting Attorney General at the beginning of President George W. Bush's first term.

- Issue: Law-

We the People Turns 3


This Monday marked the third birthday of We the People. On September 22, 2011, we officially launched the online platform that gives Americans a way to engage with their government on issues that matter most to them!

And in those three years, participation has continued to sky-rocket:

  • We've collected more than 22 million signatures
  • We've issued nearly 250 responses
  • Over 15 million users have engaged with their government

- Issue: Consumer-

Weekly Address: America is Leading the World


Hi, everybody. American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. That was true this week, as we mobilized the world to confront some of our most urgent challenges.

America is leading the world in the fight to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL. On Monday, our brave men and women in uniform began air strikes against ISIL targets in Syria. And they weren't alone. I made it clear that America would act as part of a broad coalition, and we were joined in this action by friends and partners, including Arab nations. At the United Nations in New York, I worked to build more support for this coalition; to cut off terrorist financing; and to stop the flow of foreign fighters into and out of that region. And in my address to the UN, I challenged the world -- especially Muslim communities - to reject the ideology of violent extremism, and to do more to tap the extraordinary potential of their young people.

America is leading the effort to rally the world against Russian aggression in Ukraine. Along with our allies, we will support the people of Ukraine as they develop their democracy and economy. And this week, I called upon even more nations to join us on the right side of history.

- Issue: -