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December 12, 2018

Jobs training programs at community colleges boosted by Alfond grant

A $3.6 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation will help Maine's seven community colleges expand and strengthen short-term training for those seeking to enter the workforce, as well as workers who want to expand their opportunities.

The donation to the Foundation for Maine's Community Colleges, which is in addition to a $420,000 Keybank grant in May, will support new short-term training initiatives in key Maine industries including health care, information technology, construction, manufacturing and the trades.

"Our community colleges are key to addressing Maine's workforce challenges," said Greg Powell, chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation, in announcing the grant. "They are leading the way, opening the door to opportunity for more Maine people through innovative education and training that meet both the immediate and long-term needs of students and the state. We are pleased to continue to partner with them in this important work."

The money will also support the development of new educational pathways that lead from short-term training to college credits and credentials. The program offers industry-recognized badges awarded in recognition of specific skills gained through short-term training, allowing students to work in needed roles while adding credits to future degrees or certificates.

The badge program is one of the community college system's recent new initiatives, many in partnership with businesses that are having trouble finding workers.

The collaborations not only address industry staffing needs, but offer students pathways to both credit and non-credit training that allows them to work for higher wages, train for jobs and, in many cases, take steps toward gaining a degree or certification.

"The Alfond Foundation's gift recognizes the critical role our community colleges play as engines of economic growth and upward mobility," said John McKernan, former Maine governor and chairman of The Foundation for Maine's Community Colleges. "This grant provides critical fuel for the engine and will allow the colleges to speed delivery of new training programs and partnerships at a time when they are so badly needed across the state."

The Alfond gift brings to nearly $39 million the amount raised by the Foundation for Maine's Community Colleges since it was established in 2009. The Harold Alfond Foundation has been a major contributor to the foundation. Its gift of $10.85 million in 2012 funded the establishment of Kennebec Valley Community College's Harold Alfond Campus in Hinckley.

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