March 2012

This week, hundreds of participants descended on Washington, D.C. to take part in the second annual Building a Grad Nation Summit and to welcome the release of Civic Enterprises‘ 2012 Building a Grad Nation Report. Corporate Voices is honored to have taken part in this year’s Civic Marshall Plan by lending its expertise to the 2012 report as it explores the ways in which the business community can participate in ending the high school dropout crisis through the Business Case for Education section.

For more than a decade, Corporate Voices has provided leading best-practice employers a forum to improve the lives of working families while strengthening our nation’s economy. Currently, Corporate Voices is engaging the business community in advancing talent development practices, postsecondary education completion and workforce readiness training through its Learn and Earn initiative. This initiative seeks to identify, promote and encourage innovative partnerships between employers, community colleges and other higher education institutions to help today’s “working learners”-often low-skilled young adults-complete their education while working.

“Forward-looking employers recognize the value of investing today to shape the best possible workforce of tomorrow,” said Corporate Voices’ Executive Director, John Wilcox. “The work of our strategic partners at Civic Enterprises highlights that employers who embrace innovative partnerships with educational institutions can provide a new generation of workers the immeasurable value associated with higher education, a rewarding career and the skills they will need to thrive in the uncertain global economy of the future-all while serving their bottom-line business needs and earning a measurable return on their investment.”

Corporate Voices expanded upon this vision by participating in this year’s Summit alongside the Lumina Foundation and others. Executive Director and COO John Wilcox explored how postsecondary education completion is necessary to prepare all students for a global economy, and Senior Manager for Workforce Readiness, Sara Toland highlighted ways in which organizations can sustain youth initiatives in a tough economic climate.


As communities across the country pursue plans to spend $500 million in new federal grants to build a 21st-century workforce, Corporate Voices for Working Families is being tapped for its expertise and thought leadership in the area of business-education partnerships.

At the invitation of Missouri officials, Corporate Voices’ Peggy Walton keynoted a conference this week of college executives and workforce leaders involved in one such business-education partnership.  The statewide effort, known as MoHealthWINs, is a consortium of community colleges that won $20 million in new funding to retrain residents for good jobs in health care.  The grant is part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, a federal workforce program for Americans whose jobs have been adversely impacted by global trade.

Corporate Voices’ original research informs publications and tools that are available to all communities seeking innovative solutions to pressing workforce needs. We also offer services to help build deeper strategic engagement and other technical assistance. Our latest report highlights the important ways business leaders and postsecondary educators can collaborate to serve their mutual goals.  Business and Community College Partnerships: A Blueprint offers practical advice, best-practice models, and concrete action steps for business and college leaders who hope to start, sustain, or expand successful relationships. It guides the partnership-building process from two distinct points of view—for employers, and for educators—and details how close collaboration serves the bottom-line interests of both.


  • For businesses, community college partnerships can offer the single best way to build a strong “talent pipeline” of local employees with the training and skills employers need today and in the near future. Such partnerships can also help businesses retain the best workers, improve employee diversity; and enhance their reputation in the communities they serve.


  • For community colleges, collaboration with area employers supports their core mission of preparing students with the skills and credentials they’ll need to compete for good jobs in growing industries. These partnerships can also help schools meet a related and urgent national imperative: Boosting anemic completion rates.

The new Blueprint was launched at two of the premier events in the community college field in recent weeks: The League for Innovation in the Community College’s Innovations 2012 conference last week, and the American Association of Community Colleges’ Workforce Development Institute. Gerardo de los Santos, president/CEO of the League for Innovation, endorsed the Blueprint, saying, “Innovative partnerships between employers and community colleges are essential building blocks in preparing an educated and skilled workforce. This blueprint presents an outstanding pathway for this joint work.”

The Blueprint is available for download on the Corporate Voices website.

Health Careers CollaborativeFor more than a decade, Corporate Voices has provided leading best-practice employers a forum to improve the lives of working families, while strengthening our nation’s economy.  Many employers accomplish this by supporting the educational attainment of current and future employees.  In order to ensure that individuals have the skills to succeed in the workplace and are on education and career pathways to earning family sustaining wages, employers often partner with community colleges in Learn and Earn models of talent development.

Each week, in an effort to highlight these best practice models, Corporate Voices will spotlight a distinct Learn and Earn partnership between a business and community college. This week, we are pleased to highlight the Health Careers Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati.

The Health Careers Collaborative (HCC) of Greater Cincinnati is a business-led consortium providing area hospitals with skilled, credentialed, loyal and diverse workers, while providing entry-level workers with educational opportunities tied to career mobility.  At the consortium’s foundation is a partnership between Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and local healthcare employers, including UC Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and TriHealth. HCC successfully created a career pathway with multiple entrance and exit points for incumbent, low-skilled and entry-level hospital workers to advance. The pathway also allows for unemployed and disadvantaged individuals to complete education and training programs that will position them to fill vacancies at the entry-level as incumbent workers advance.

To date, 3,000 credentials have been earned by participants, and one employer calculated an 11.9% return on investment for its participation in the collaborative.  The key to this successful model, according to the employers, is that it is business-led and that the community college and community organizations are willing and trustworthy partners.

On Wednesday, February 22, U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis and Dr. Jill Biden visited HCC as part of a three-day “Community College to Career” bus tour to highlight innovative industry initiatives that are helping train students with the skills they need to meet area workforce needs. The bus tour and visit to HCC follow President Obama’s recent announcement of an $8 billion Community College to Career Fund, co-administered by the Department of Labor and Department of Education,which will help forge new partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train two million workers with skills that will lead directly to jobs.

For more information on HCC, please read the Learn and Earn micro-business case, or check Corporate Voices’ most recent tool,Business and Community College Partnerships: A Blueprint.

goodwillEach week, Corporate Voices will be highlighting the commitments of its member and partner companies to Summer Jobs Plus, a new Presidential call-to-action for businesses, nonprofits and government to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012.

Corporate Voices’ partner company, Goodwill Industries International is proud to be one of the first organizations to support the Summer Jobs Plus program. Through Goodwill’s unique social enterprise business model, it creates employment and job training. This year, the organization will expand services for youth at the beginning of their careers. Goodwill is committed to hiring 1,200 youth ages 16-26, provide more than 3,200 youth with life skill services and provide over 2,300 youth with work skills services. Almost 2,000 youth will be engaged in learn and earn services. Thousands more will be provided virtual career mentoring and exploration services.

To learn more about fellow member companies committed to this effort, check out the new section on our website devoted to Summer Jobs Plus! To find out how your company can join this in this effort, build on your existing initiatives and make a commitment, please visit