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DR. ALEX JOHNSON AND TEAM Tri-C Strive For Higher Learning

Part 1

While reviewing available educational opportunities in Cuyahoga County, it became apparent that inequity and disparity as it pertains to the disadvantaged and deprived citizens in this County is enormous, especially when the future is a serious consideration. In an interview with Dr. Alex Johnson, we discussed efforts in the county and especially in the Cleveland area to raise educational levels as well as the state of consciousness to improve one's perspective on oneself.

These changes alone will help to provide needed improvements in the community. To receive a High School Diploma, GED or to be certified in an area of expertise enhances life as well as opens doors of opportunities that must not be ignored.

In fact, a door of opportunity is open at Cuyahoga Community College. Cuyahoga Community College is providing opportunity with affordability. You can make a difference in Cleveland; you can make a difference in your own life.

Dr. Alex Johnson and the Team at Cuyahoga Community College have launched a countywide initiative in search of individuals who seek to improve their own lives as well as make a much-needed contribution to the community. Dr. Alex Johnson insists that through Cuyahoga Community College, individuals in the core community are able to acquire a quality education.

Good morning Dr. Johnson, how are you today?

Dr. Alex Johnson: I am doing very well and I want to thank you for giving me an opportunity to talk about our Cuyahoga Community College, the great strides that we have made and particularly in ensuring that individuals in our core community are able to get a quality education experience.

Question: Tri-C has advanced to become a premier college and institution in Cuyahoga County. What do you see as a major goal for Tri-C as it pertains to aiding the educational process?

Dr. Alex Johnson: So Tri-C has indeed, evidently, been at the educational forefront of delivery in our community, but it also has a national reputation that means that a lot of what we do to promote educational excellence is recognized at the height of Americas Community Colleges. Most specifically, our responsibility is to serve as a driver of the economy in the region with the laser light focus on those communities, which have been essentially underserved. Therefore, as we move forward in our transformation, what we know is that Tri-c has to have a closer connection and engagement in the community. We need to make certain that our neighborhoods are given a chance to develop themselves due to people who live there. One way you can do that is by first providing education and training and then moving these individuals into jobs which have value, that provide a family sustaining wage and that will ultimately contribute to the economic growth and development of the communities. So a couple of things we are doing in that regard: 1. We are identifying areas in our community where Tri-C’s presence would be pivotal. The first thing we have done is open up access centers on the Eastside and the Westside and those are designed to give individuals an intermediate point before they actually come to one of our campuses. 2. We provide education and training, outreach and opportunities with businesses for individuals to gain employment and have a sense of continued well being. For us that is an important responsibility. One access center is located at the Otis Moss Community Development Center at 89 th and Quincy. The second is located at Esperanza, Incorporated on the near Westside at 3104 W. 25 th Street. Both of these organizations have longstanding relationships with Tri-C. They have a constituency. They are a group of organizations that really depend on these individuals for their well being. They have partners. The Otis Moss Center has University Hospitals. Esperanza has ATT. They both have represented educational attainment and excellence in their mission as well as in their goals and objectives, so that is where the first two will be established. In the foreseeable future we hope to establish one at MetroHealth through their transformation project and another in Slavic Village which has been undergoing some challenges in recent years and most notably since the financial crisis. That is one of the biggest efforts, which is before us right now.

Question: How did Tri-C get involved with vocational training and education when it was something that used to be in the public schools?

Dr. Alex Johnson: A: Tri-C has not only been involved but it expanded in efforts around workforce training and development or career education. That is a part of our mission. Not only do we offer programs which transfer to four year institutions but we offer programs which get people immediately in to jobs and we have had that history since the start of the institution fifty-seven years ago. But in the last decade Tri-C has expanded its workforce effort in response to the needs of the business community and the multiplicity of jobs which have technical requirements. In the last five years, we have expanded our programs offering threefold. We have extended more credentials significantly to individuals. When I arrived in 2013, we awarded about 980 workforce credentials and this past year the total was 19,349. Those certificates were presented to single individuals; multiplely, but think about one person coming from our community earning five credentials in information technology or manufacturing and using each one of them to leverage a job opportunity. Think about it. The power that an individual has, to not only develop themselves fully, but also to contribute to the betterment of Greater Cleveland. There is no better way for individuals to lift themselves up than through education, training and then ultimately a job.

To be continued...

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