Windham Region Partners Launch Innovative Education Program with Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation
Piloting Flexible Pathways into the Windham Region Workforce
Townshend, VT, September 21st — The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation launched the newest initiative of the Southern Vermont Workforce Center of Excellence, the Pipelines and Pathways program. The launch of the program took place at Leland & Gray High School, and was attended by representatives from Leland & Gray, Twin Valley Middle-High School, Bellows Falls Union High School, Brattleboro Union High School, SeVEDS Municipal partners, the Vermont Community Foundation, McClure Foundation, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Economic Development Brett Long, Commissioner Kurrle from the Vermont Department of Labor, and Secretary French from the Agency of Education.
“We are encouraged by the momentum and enthusiasm created by the Pipelines and Pathways project in Windham County. By supporting and strengthening work-based and community-based opportunities, we expect this program will become a model for other regions to work to ensure all our students have access to high-wage, high growth careers in their own communities. This project empowers youth to design a path to financial security and a successful future in Southern Vermont,” says Vermont Department of Labor Commissioner Kurrle.
Since 2013 and the development of the Windham Region Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) by SeVEDS the BDCC, through a variety of initiatives, has been building relationships with the leadership in all four Windham County public high schools. This sustained effort, supported by Windham Region municipalities, philanthropic foundations, and state and federal partners has allowed our region to gain insights into the unmet needs of schools, students and employers as they seek to adequately prepare entrants to the Windham County regional workforce. The result is the newly launched Pipelines and Pathways program, which is designed to leverage Act 77 and Flexible Pathways to better connect our students with regional jobs. By supporting and strengthening work-based and community-based opportunities in all four Windham County Supervisory Unions, the program will work to ensure all of our students have access to high-wage, high growth careers in their own communities.
Adam Grinold, Executive Director, says “Perhaps the most pressing issue our economy faces is that of our declining workforce. We’re excited to play a leading role in developing a region-wide workforce development system that serves all students, from all public schools, here in our County. We’re helping prepare students, today, for tomorrow’s future.”
The BDCC has up-to-date hiring projections, training partnerships, and work-based learning experiences established through the BDCC Business Cluster Roundtable Initiative, Fast Tracks to Success Program, and the Six College Collaborative, and this program will extend these opportunities to all students in Windham County’s public high schools. Innovative curricula design and curated work-based learning will leverage employer input to ensure every student has the skills, behaviors, and education needed to succeed in Windham County.
“In being welcomed into our schools, it’s always been our goal to support the needs and innovative opportunities our guidance counselors and teachers are creating for their students. As our students begin to envision themselves as community members, employees, and future leaders, this program will support them pursuing these goals in their hometowns,” says Alex Beck, BDCC Workforce and Education Program Manager.
The BDCC was awarded competitive grants from the Windham County Economic Development Program, the Vermont Training Program, the Lois J. and Warren McClure Foundation, and the Vermont Community Foundation. This program is also supported by Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies, and the Windham region’s municipalities that have led investment in regional economic and workforce development for many years. The BDCC has successfully partnered with these sources of funds to raise $300,000 in financial support of the first three years of the program.
“Both the Vermont Community Foundation and J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation are thrilled to be a part of this innovative regional effort,” said Dan Smith, President & CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation. “We’ve been connected with and impressed by BDCC’s leadership since the start of the Southern Vermont Workforce Center of Excellence and believe in the potential of this project to help close the opportunity gap in the Windham region.”
Representatives from all four high schools were part of a hiring committee that conducted two rounds of interviews from candidates across New England. Christy Betit, an alumna of Whitingham School and native Southern Vermonter, started her new role at the launch of the school year. Ms. Betit’s experience teaching in public schools and designing workforce training programs for Boston’s booming hospitality industry align well with the needs of the program.
“I grew up in Southern Vermont,” explained Betit. “When I graduated from high school, I distinctly recall the confusion and anxiety I felt about my future educational and career opportunities. So many of my decisions were based on impulse and whim. In my new role at BDCC, I’m excited to help all of our students tap into a self-knowledge of their passions, what drives them, what they’re good at. With that knowledge, we can help connect them to career opportunities in high-wage, high-demand jobs right here in Southern Vermont.”
Bill Anton, Superintendent of Windham Central Supervisory Union and a member of the hiring committee, says that “The BDCC has been a great partner with our Supervisory Union. The collaboration with Leland and Gray students and faculty has extended our capacity to expose our students work-based learning. The Pipelines and Pathways program is a wonderful compliment to this partnership, and the hiring of a dedicated educational professional is a thoughtful and strategic way to expand the current work.”
For more information about the Pipelines and Pathways program, contact the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation directly at 802-257-7731.
The Pipelines and Pathways program is an initiative of the Southern Vermont Workforce Center of Excellence. The Southern Vermont Workforce Center of Excellence is a program of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) which offers an employer-driven system of Workforce and Education partners aligned behind grassroots workforce development strategies that will increase the size and quality of the workforce, higher median household incomes. It was created through the Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) comprehensive planning CEDS process, which engages residents, employers, and municipalities throughout the Windham Region. The vision of the Center is that every Vermonter in Windham County has access to the education, training, and support needed to access meaningful, livable wage careers, so that no good job goes unfilled.
For additional details:
About BDCC: www.brattleborodevelopment.com
About SeVEDS: www.seveds.com/
About WCOE: www.brattleborodevelopment.com/workforce
About McClure: www.mcclurevt.org
About VCF: www.vermontcf.org