Empower Erie Frequently Asked Questions

 

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Why this project?

There is an urgent need for affordable accessible postsecondary job training in Erie County.

  • Erie County’s unemployment rate is twice the state and the nation. Jobs in the manufacturing sector fell by 8.6% (1,900 jobs) in the last 12 months alone. While there have been job gains in some other sectors of the local economy, these were not enough to prevent Erie’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from reaching 7.1% in October.

  • More than 18% of Erie County residents are living below the poverty level, with nearly 30% in the city of Erie.

  • Recent poverty figures from the Erie School District suggest an even greater educational crisis looming in Erie's urban core. An overwhelming majority of public school age students, 80.1%, are economically disadvantaged. Poverty correlates with poor student performance in the classroom.

  • High school graduation rates in Erie County (82.3%) are lower than the state average (85.3%), with the Erie School District at only 73%, suggesting a great need for remedial programs in the future. Students living in the urban core and adult student who have a family tend to need an accessible, affordable option that specifically prepares them for jobs in Erie.

  • While there is a strong correlation between educational attainment and employment, there is also a growing number of jobs that require post-secondary education. Harvard Graduate School of Business predicts that 30% of the 47 million new jobs expected to be created in the US in the next 10 years will require at least an associate degree or certificate.

  • Advanced manufacturers in Erie County estimate that 50% of their workforce will retire in the next 10 years. Most of those jobs will require postsecondary training; but not a bachelor’s degree.

  • Existing opportunities are either very expensive or not readily accessible to a large percentage of those in need of them. The current climate is resulting in a population of under-educated young people from Erie County entering the local job market at an increasing rate over the next generation.
  • The cost of for-profit schools is beyond the means of many residents and lower cost, geographically accessible options cannot be delivered at the scale needed to meet the demand.

  • A community college is an open-access, readily affordable institution, intending to provide academic services to the entire community, regardless of prior academic achievement.

  • Developing an accessible, affordable network for education and training is one of the goals of Emerge 2040, the region’s 25-year plan for sustainability. An Erie Community College could provide a solid anchor for those efforts. The Erie community college can become the hub of the wheel that connects all workforce development efforts in a cohesive plan of education, so long as it meets the priorities of the community.

  • A vast body of local research shows that averting a worsening public emergency in education can best be achieved by focused investment in three tent pole initiatives: early education, quality public schools, and a community college.
 
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Why a stand alone community college?
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What is the process?
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Who will conduct the study?

OUR TEAM CONTACT US

 

Our view: Don’t let rural se...

Posted on March 13th, 2018 at 12:36 PM

A community college has long been recommended in Erie County to fill a gap in the region’s education continuum and serve as a resource to local employers, especially manuf...

Our view: Budget item kindles ...

Posted on March 2nd, 2018 at 12:45 PM

As Erie Times-News reporter Matthew Rink detailed, the state last fall authorized $10 million in the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for Erie County’s proposed co...

Community college is vital inv...

Posted on November 5th, 2017 at 10:31 AM

Tom Hagen's op-ed in support of the community college.

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Pennsylvania State Board of Ed...

Posted on September 20th, 2017 at 2:24 PM

The Special Committee of the State Board of Education (Board) established to facilitate the Board's consideration of the plan submitted by Erie County seeking to establish the E...

Erie County community college ...

Posted on June 30th, 2017 at 4:16 PM

The state’s application review process could take up to a year, officials have said.

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Erie County Council approves c...

Posted on June 28th, 2017 at 6:15 AM

A community college plan developed by nonprofit Empower Erie over the past several months now becomes the formal application for the new school that coul...

Why we’re voting for communi...

Posted on June 27th, 2017 at 2:00 AM

This past year, our county embarked on a familiar journey toward the establishment of a community college. With the backing of Erie’s philanthropic community and County Ex...

County Executive Kathy Dahlkem...

Posted on June 14th, 2017 at 3:46 PM

County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper will host a series of events featuring County Council members and members of the Empower Erie team at local high schools. The meetings will pro...

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