Funding Career Pathways and Career Pathway Bridges: A Federal Funding Toolkit for States

March 26, 2013

MARCH 2013

Postsecondary education—broadly defined as a credential beyond a high school diploma—continues to be one of the major gateways to family-sustaining jobs. Having a postsecondary education also offers some protection in a weak economy because workers with higher levels of education are less likely to become unemployed than workers with lower levels.

At the same time, our adult education, workforce development, and postsecondary education systems frequently have disconnects that can be barriers to progress for individuals with low education and skill levels. Career pathways are an approach that many states are adopting to fix fragmented and leaky educational pipelines. Career pathways are linked education and training services that enable students to advance over time to successively higher levels of education and employment in a given industry or occupational sector. Each step on a career pathway is designed to prepare students to progress to the next level of employment and education. The career pathways approach is a framework for weaving together adult education, training, and postsecondary programs, and connecting those services to the workforce needs of employers.

The 2010 edition of the funding toolkit was widely cited and used at the federal, state, and local levels. This new edition includes fresh state and local examples and revised program profiles reflecting critical legislative and administrative changes to key federal programs. Of all the elements of career pathways, support services are among the most important for ensuring student success, yet they are also the most difficult to fund. A new appendix identifies 10 federal funding sources that can be used to provide a wide range of support services for participants in career pathways and career pathway bridges.

Using the Toolkit

CLASP developed the Funding Career Pathways and Career Pathway Bridges Toolkit to help interagency state teams identify and use federal resources to support these models. The toolkit has four sections which are intended to be used in conjunction with each other to assist state teams in building their career pathways or career pathways bridge initiative. These four sections include:

Federal Program Summaries

Use the federal program summaries below to identify resources that might support your state's career pathways initiative. Each summary includes basic information, such as type of program, eligibility requirements, type of services/support provided and an analysis of how the program can support career pathways, including a list of specific opportunities and limitations for state usage of federal funds.

Workforce Investment Act Title I: Adult and Dislocated Worker
Workforce Investment Act Title I: Youth
Trade Adjustment Assistance
Registered Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship
Employment Service (Wagner-Peyser Act)
Workforce Investment Act Title II: Adult Education and Family Literacy Act 
Pell Grant

Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training

Use the new appendix, Federal Funding for Support Services, to identify federal programs that can be used for a range of support services that help students persist in and complete career pathways.

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