Through the work of the Continuum of Learning, Sangamon County has been named a 60 by 25 Leadership Community by Advance Illinois and Northern Illinois University Education Systems. This designation signifies a commitment from the Continuum of Learning and its county-wide partners to work locally to contribute to the larger state goal that 60% of adults in Illinois will hold a meaningful post-secondary credential by the year 2025.
Sangamon County joins 13 other communities from across Illinois in being recognized for a commitment to using a common strategy and localized data to unite employers, workforce development boards, education stakeholders, municipal leadership, and community-based organizations around increasing local opportunities for meaningful and equitable postsecondary attainment. These Leadership Community responsibilities align closely with the Continuum of Learning’s guiding strategy, Sangamon Success, which calls for Sangamon County to increase evidence-based opportunities for less-advantaged youth to earn college credit while still in high school and strengthen career pathways so that every student who successfully completes high school is on a path to a useful career.
Sangamon County is now featured alongside the other Leadership Communities on the 60 by 25 Cradle to Career Data Dashboard. This tool will be used to track localized data that takes a lifespan approach to showing community-wide indicators of workforce readiness, from early childhood health and education data to college and career readiness of teens and adults. The Continuum of Learning, in collaboration with member organization the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, has also selected four prioritized industry clusters that will serve as the focus of local career and technical education efforts: 1) health sciences; 2) manufacturing, engineering, technology, and trades; 3) information technology; and 4) transportation, distribution, and logistics. These clusters represent industries that are expected to grow in Sangamon County and serve as the source of increased numbers of jobs in the coming years.
In pursuit of increased access to career and technical education opportunities related to these industries, Continuum of Learning members Innovate Springfield and Springfield Public Schools were recently awarded a grant of $14,000 to be distributed over the next two school years by Northern Illinois University Education Systems. These funds will help promote more equitable access to career education by defraying student fees associated with career pathways classes and professional certifications for low-income students. These funds will be made available to students by Springfield Public Schools beginning in Fall 2018.
In the coming months, Innovate Springfield will be coordinating the Continuum of Learning’s efforts to explore existing high-quality career education opportunities being offered in Sangamon County. Those engaged in local career and technical education work are encouraged to contact ContinuumOfLearning@Gmail.com and visit Sangamon County’s 60 by 25 Community Profile to engage in the Continuum of Learning’s efforts.
The Sangamon County Continuum of Learning (COL) is an educational collaborative based in Springfield, Illinois. COL member organizations work collaboratively to increase evidence-based opportunities for educational attainment among less-advantaged youth in Sangamon County. Sangamon Success serves as COL’s guiding, community-wide action plan. The collaborative’s Leadership Council consists of leaders from: the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, United Way of Central Illinois, University of Illinois - Springfield Center for State Policy and Leadership, the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Innovate Springfield, Springfield Public Schools, and Lincoln Land Community College’s Workforce Development program.