Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Network update-Franklin County

The folks in Franklin County, tucked into Maine’s western mountains, recognize that education is one of the key components in its economic future. Without the requisite skills and training, most of its residents are sure to be left behind, unable to compete in a global marketplace, and certainly unable to access a middle-class way-of-life that was once part of the American Dream.

The Franklin Community College Network provides an important catalyst in providing educational opportunities, by providing a pathway to higher education and training, and eliminating obstacles and barriers that in the past may have prevented many in the area from accessing, or even considering college, or a skilled trades career.

Since 2005, the network has provided college-level instruction to 246 students, many of them going on to matriculate at Central Maine Community College, and elsewhere. Additionally, the network has also helped set up training for more than 100 residents of the county for trades-related jobs, partnering with companies like the Cianbro Corporation to provide welding classes. During this time, no student has ever been turned away due to financial reasons, remarkable in itself, and even more so considering the tough economic conditions that have plagued the region since the demise of the wood products industry, and other traditional industries.

Last night, the network recognized nine organizations and their representatives for their role in making the network a reality.

The network also accepted a legislative sentiment of appreciation, acknowledging the organization’s recent Noyce Award for Nonprofit Excellence. The award, which was presented by the Maine Community Foundation, recognizes one nonprofit agency each year. The Franklin County Community College Network was selected from among 16 nonprofits--one from each county--that were awarded special Maine Community Foundation 25th anniversary community-building grants in November. Semifinalists for the Noyce Award included Aroostook Area Agency on Aging, Trekkers, Community Wellness Coalition, and St. Mary's Health System.

You can find more information on last night’s award ceremony at The Daily Bulldog’s website.

For an overview of the network, I’ve included this link to an article that I wrote back in 2007, on how this network approach to training and education came to be.

Additionally, the Annie E. Casey Foundation commissioned writer Betsy Rubiner to do an article on the network, which illustrates their Rural Family Economic Success (RuFES) framework of Earn It, Keep It, and Grow It.

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