Cross-sector partnership bolsters personalized supports for learners to earn secondary credentials, secure in-demand jobs, and progress along learning and career pathways.

Boston, MA, July 11, 2017 — Today, Jobs for the Future (JFF), an Appalachian Regional Commission POWER Initiative grantee, and Cengage, an education and technology company, are announcing a partnership with two community colleges in Appalachian region states in an effort to eliminate high school completion barriers for youth and adults who lack a secondary credential. The goal of the partnership is to help individuals in coal-impacted communities enter or advance in information technology (IT), energy, and aerospace careers.

Pierpont Community & Technical College in West Virginia and Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Kentucky were awarded 40 student scholarships for Career Online High School (COHS) tuition. These scholarships will help students complete high school, secure in-demand jobs, and progress along learning and career paths. Additionally, JFF and Cengage will grant up to 1,000 COHS program trials, or samples, in the Appalachian region.

Career Online High School is an accredited, online high school diploma program designed for out-of-school and unemployed youth and adults to earn a secondary credential while developing entry-level workplace skills that enable postsecondary and employment opportunities. Career Online High School is not a GED. It is a unique educational service, that:

  • Was developed to re-engage adult learners and “Opportunity Youth” (age 16-24);
  • Has an online design which offers flexibility for students;
  • Uses curriculum-based research on educational trauma, and the factors that contribute to the dropout crisis;
  • Is an accredited high school diploma with an accredited entry-level workforce certificate to leverage employment opportunities;
  • Uses a “flipped” program model in which workforce electives that develop life and work skills are prioritized for more meaningful engagement in core academic content.

“All students need the supports that enable them to succeed in the classroom and workplace. We’re proud to be part of a solution for students that help them earn credentials and building skills to begin on a career pathway in an in-demand occupation,” said Maria Flynn, president and CEO of JFF. “We believe this model can be tested and accelerated across the Appalachian region and look forward to its initial success.”

Grant award recipients were selected after a collaborative evaluation by JFF and Cengage. The grantees, which represent coal-impacted Appalachian region communities, are integrating the Career Online High School model within a broader workforce development strategy that will include local partners and have educational and career pathways.

West Virginia: Pierpont Community & Technical College
Pierpont will serve students ages 16 to 64 without a high school diploma or GED. The college will also focus on displaced coal workers who need a secondary credential to access jobs in new industries. Pierpont will target specific regions of West Virgina, including Barbour, Braxton, and Doddridge Calhoun, Gilmer counties.

The college will position Career Online High School graduates to work and advance their studies in the region’s growing energy and aerospace sectors. The initial two weeks of the program will be dedicated to a digital literacy course, to be held in the evenings, in which students will use the G Suite for Education (Google’s education applications) and Microsoft Office software to build technological aptitude.

The student cohort will have a “support team” that will include a coordinator, course monitor, and student services staff—all of whom will work together to coach students on their academic progress and support needs. Advising will include job placement assistance, fields of study for continuing education, and financial aid options. Job placement activities will engage eight key aerospace and energy employers located in the region.

Kentucky: Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College
Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC) will serve older youth and adults who need a high school diploma to advance into the region’s growing middle-skill occupations in IT. Specifically, the college will prepare Career Online High School students for in-demand occupations in computer IT and medical IT fields. These occupations include networking, computer support, programming, and medical coding—all of which generally require postsecondary credentials below a bachelor’s degree.

Students will receive access to the computer and tutoring labs at SKCTC campuses with extended operation hours to allow evening and weekend access. Additionally, the school will work with students to identify and utilize resources such as libraries, community-based organizations, and workforce investment boards (WIBs). The cohort will have a dedicated outreach and placement specialist and success coach who will support each student with personalized goal development and actions plans, track students’ academic progress, conduct skills assessments, provide career counseling, provide job referrals, and assist in developing work readiness skills such as resume writing and job search strategies.

SKCTC’s Career Online High School implementation will benefit from longstanding partnerships between the college, state, and local WIBs, the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, agencies such as Goodwill, and key employers. The college will use resources from its strategic partnerships with the state workforce system and employer connections to co-develop expanded intake and assessment processes. SKCTC will also participate in a newly created Workforce and Employer Leadership Council. This council includes a large national business and industry association, as well as several state and regional employers, who help identify in-demand and emerging skills within the IT sector as well as provide feedback on new credentials and skills leading to employment.

“We are pleased to partner with Jobs for the Future to re-engage adults in education by providing career training aligned with the demands of today’s job market,” said Taryn McKenzie, Executive Director of Workforce Development at Cengage. “The confidence that students gain through earning an accredited high school diploma can often open the door to more job opportunities and a better life.”

About Jobs for the Future 
Jobs for the Future is a national nonprofit organization that works to ensure economic opportunity for all. We develop innovative career pathways and public policies, resulting in increased college readiness and success for students and a more skilled workforce for employers. For over 30 years, JFF has been a leader in building connections between education and work that expand opportunity and strengthen our economy. For more information, visit

About Cengage
Cengage is the education and technology company built for learners. The company serves the higher education, K-12, professional, library and workforce training markets worldwide. Cengage creates learning experiences that build confidence and momentum toward the future students want. The company is headquartered in Boston, MA with an office hub in San Francisco. Employees reside in nearly 40 countries with sales in more than 125 countries around the world. Visit us at or find Facebook and Twitter.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. For more information, visit