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Workforce Readiness

Ohio Colleges Push Union Members to Finish 4-Year Degrees

Two schools in Ohio have teamed up to help union members obtain bachelor's degrees. In a new program called "CSU Career Plus+," Central State University is working with Eastern Gateway Community College to help graduates of the two-year college who are also members of the AFL-CIO finish their four-year degrees in online classes.

Central State is an Historically Black College and University; Eastern Gateway is the largest community college in the state.

Last spring, when the pandemic struck, disrupting both the U.S. economy and education systems, Central State worked with AFL-CIO to provide students with tuition-free college in critical areas including teacher education, criminal justice and business, through Union Plus, a nonprofit that provides benefits and services to members of AFL-CIO-affiliated unions. That benefit encompassed union members in other states as well.

The CSU-CP+ initiative was tested last year with 28 participants. Since then it has grown to 1,988 students.

"As the world changes, the virtual experience is enhanced and education needs increase, we see an opportunity to partner and provide offerings to strengthen workforce development globally," said Central State President Jack Thomas, in a statement. "Developing innovative and robust online offerings allows us to be more accessible as we prepare talent."

Calling Central State's online classes a "game-changer" for working adults with "motivation," Thomas noted that the programs have also become "a major component in our school's social justice mission to reach otherwise underserved and underrepresented communities. Our ability to reach them where they are allows us to expand our institution's reach and opportunity to produce more teachers, public safety professionals and business entrepreneurs."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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