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Release Date: 09.27.2012 | Location: All Metro Atlanta | Organization: Jobs for the Future

Blank Family Foundation Awards a $300,000 Grant to Help Close Georgia's Job Skills Gap

GA Technical Colleges Join Accellerating Opportunity, a National Job-Training Initiative

To help Georgians earn the credentials and training they need to get and succeed in family-sustaining jobs, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has awarded a three-year, $300,000 grant to Jobs for the Future, which will enable the Technical College System of Georgia to join five other states in a national job-training initiative called Accelerating Opportunity.

The American economy is facing a growing skills gap, with many young adults lacking the training or education necessary for jobs that pay a middle-class wage.  Accelerating Opportunity targets workers who are underprepared for today’s demanding job market.  Over 1.2 million adults in Georgia lack a high school diploma, with more than 300,000 in the Atlanta metro region alone. While just over 10,000 of these individuals are enrolled in adult basic education programs, many of them leave after only a semester or two, not earning any form of postsecondary credential. Accelerating Opportunity will substantially increase the number of adults who can earn a GED and a credential and enter the workplace with competitive skills by creating effective pathways to credentials and careers.

“This is an opportunity to invest in a strategy focused on education and employability. We see this initiative as a complement to our longer-term efforts around education attainment and college access. There is a great need for significant reforms to the way Georgia supports and delivers programs for lower-skilled populations,” said Penelope McPhee, president of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. “One of our goals in awarding this grant is to remove barriers that prevent thousands of adults from attaining the skills and education they need.”

With bold goals for improving student outcomes and gaining state-level policy support, the Accelerating Opportunity initiative in Georgia will:

  • Build career pathways for thousands of workers and students to earn certification for high-demand jobs.
  • Launch a model in five community colleges in urban, rural and suburban areas that can be expanded to all technical colleges in Georgia.
  • Develop a policy and financing plan to ensure long-term sustainability for the innovations developed through this initiative.

“By breaking down the barriers to educational attainment, we are responding to the current economy by helping community and technical colleges produce more employable graduates,” said Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia. “We need to meet workers where they are, regardless of skill level or language proficiency, and prepare them for today’s labor market. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to be part of Jobs for the Future’s national consortium.”

Accelerating Opportunity is informed by JFF’s Breaking Through initiative, which promoted the support of 35 community colleges in 18 states to improve career pathways and postsecondary education for low-skilled adults. It is also modeled after Washington State’s successful I-BEST program, which provides integrated and supportive pathways through the state’s community colleges for low-skilled workers to attain a credential of value in the job market.

About the Technical College System of Georgia:
The 25 colleges of the Technical College System of Georgia offer affordable education and excellent training in more than 600 certificate, diploma and two-year associate degree programs. Students of all ages take advantage of outstanding instructors, hands-on learning and state-of-the-art equipment to gain the skills needed for today’s in-demand jobs. Visit for more information.

About Jobs for the Future:
Jobs for the Future aligns education with today's high-demand careers. With its partners, JFF develops policy solutions and new pathways leading from college readiness to career advancement for struggling and low-income populations in America. In more than 200 communities across 43 states, JFF improves the pathways leading from high school to college to family-sustaining careers. Visit for more information.

About The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation:
Formed in 1995, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation promotes innovative solutions to improve the lives of youth and their families, seeking results that move communities beyond what seems possible today. The Foundation invests in early childhood development, education, green space and the arts and leads giving programs for each of the Blank Family of Businesses, including the Atlanta Falcons. Mr. Blank co-founded The Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, in 1978 and retired from the company as co-chairman in 2001. Through the foundation and his family’s personal giving, Mr. Blank has granted more than $250 million to various charitable organizations. Visit for more information.

Contact Info

Contact Name: Jeff Landis

Company: Jobs for the Future

Phone: 617.728.4446