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Web Chat with ETA - TAACCCT Public Comment Webchat (Static Version)

Tuesday, October 6, 3:00 p.m. EDT

2:49 DOL Moderator: This chat is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.. You can sumbit your questions/comments at any time. Please remember this is text only and no audio will be provided. An archived copy of this chat will be available at the conclusion of this chat.

3:00 ETA: Good afternoon, and welcome to our public comment web-chat on the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training TAACCCT program. As you know, the Department of Labor and the Department of Education recently announced the first $500 million round of TAACCCT grants to colleges around the country for targeted training and workforce development to help economically dislocated who are changing careers.

We are now beginning the second round of this program and we are interested in your thoughts and feedback, specifically regarding the first Solicitation for the TAACCCT program. We are especially interested in feedback on the SGA itself, including: eligible institutions; priorities identified; required community outreach; employer partnership requirement; public workforce system consultation; concept of continual improvement; concept of evidence-based strategies; and third-party review of deliverables. It is our intent to listen to your comments, but please know we may not be able to respond to each remark.

And, because we want to learn from you in this listening session, we ask that if you have specific questions about the program that fall beyond the scope of today’s session, please direct those questions to the Department’s TAACCCT program office at This includes specific questions about applications that you submitted in response to the first round TAACCT SGA, such as how you can receive feedback on your application. Please direct these types of questions to the grants specialist, Melissa Abdullah, at Again, thank you for participating in this important event. I’ll now turn it over to the TAACCCT team to start the conversation.

3:00 Comment From John Cech: The guidance seemed to emphasize service to TAA populations. The awards did not. That descrepancy more than any specific RFP element is hard to know how to adjust to.

3:02 Comment From Melissa: Where can I find the archive of Tuesday's chat so I do not duplicate questions?

3:02 ETA: Tuesday's chat is available at

3:03 Comment From Melissa: My exact point John 3:00

3:04 Comment From Guest: Timing and fund availability for another round of requests? Will consortia continue to be stressed?

3:04 ETA: Thanks for your question. ETA anticipates that the TAACCCT Round 2 Solicitation for Grant Application (SGA) will be announced in late 2011 or early 2012. We encourage you to monitor ETA’s Web site for this announcement. All Federal solicitations are posted in the Federal Register at, and DOL-specific information is also available on our Web site at Additional information on TAACCCT solicitations will be posted on the TAACCCT Web site at

3:04 Comment From Marie: The template for the timeline was confusing because the SGA required cost per student per strategy and a cost per student for the overall program, but those items were not included on the sample template.

3:05 Comment From James Grossklag: I applaud the requirement for materials produced with grant funding to be shared under a Creative Commons license. This seems to be a reasonable and strategic way to promote the broadest use possible of materials produced with public funds.

3:06 Comment From Guest: 1. When will the rest of the grantees be named… as some of the states have not yet received a grant? 2. When can we see the full proposals from the wave 1 winners? I understand they will be posted on the DOL web site. 3. What is the official start date of the Wave 1 grants?

3:06 ETA: Thanks for asking. For specific questions regarding applications in Round 1, please contact the Grants Specialist, Melissa Abdullah at

3:06 Comment From rgrover: The community outreach process required by the SGA was time consuming and did not revela anything that wasn't already known to us from WIB and partners. We were forced through a fabricated process simply to say we did it for the points.

3:07 ETA: Were priorities identified in the SGA aligned with your member organization priorities?
• Priority 1: Accelerate Progress for Low-Skilled and Other Workers;
• Priority 2: Improve Retention and Achievement Rates to Reduce Time to Completion;
• Priority 3: Build Programs That Meet Industry Needs, Including Developing Career Pathways; and
• Priority 4: Strengthening Online and Technology-Enabled Learning

3:08 Comment From James Grossklag: Yes, the priorities identified in the SGA do overlap with the priorities of my institution and I would say most community colleges.

3:08 Comment From Guest: Yes, which is why we thought we had a strong proposal.

3:08 Comment From Guest: It is difficult to divide costs up by strategy when so many budget items cross multiple strategies. It helped us think through the resource priorities, but I don't know how accurately the division can be estimated.

3:08 Comment From Guest: What is important to remember is that the priorities are not exclusive of one another. To accelerate progress for low-skilled and other workers, often you address retention and achievement rates and build programs based on regional industry needs are pathways.

3:09 Comment From Guest: Are you able to confirm whether there will be a Round 2 SGA, and not a down-select?

3:09 ETA: Thanks for your question. ETA anticipates that the TAACCCT Round 2 Solicitation for Grant Application (SGA) will be announced in late 2011 or early 2012. We encourage you to monitor ETA’s Web site for this announcement. All Federal solicitations are posted in the Federal Register at, and DOL-specific information is also available on our Web site at Additional information on TAACCCT solicitations will be posted on the TAACCCT Web site at

3:10 Comment From Guest: I would concur, when it came to developing strategies, goals, objectives and budget it was more difficult to put them in one priority over another.

3:11 Comment From Cable Green: James Grossklag is correct. The public deserves free and open access to educational materials it funds. DOL is exercising rational, responsible public policy that more efficiently uses public tax dollars to improve education opportunities for community college students and displaced workers. The public should not be required to pay twice to access and use educational materials, first via the funding of the research and development of educational resources using their tax dollars, and then again when they purchase materials like textbooks they helped fund or when they pay a license fee to a grant recipient to use the materials. "Taxpayer-funded educational resources should be open educational resources."

3:12 Comment From James Grossklag: Will the full proposals from round 1 winners be released?

3:12 ETA: On September 26, the Department of Labor and Department of Education announced nearly $500 million awards to the first round of TAACCCT grants. Thirty two (32) awards ranging from approximately $2.5 million each for individual applicants and up to $25 million each for consortium applicants have been made towards the implementation of the TAACCCT initiative. These grants are designed to accelerate individual learning and improve college retention and achievement rates to increase industry-recognized credential or degree completion rates of TAA for Workers program participants, as well as other individuals, to enable them to meet industry needs for a skilled workforce and obtain good jobs. It is the Department’s expectation that this initiative will also increase the use of online or technology-driven learning to achieve these objectives. To view the complete list of grantees by state, visit: We’re working on posting the applications and abstracts of the grant applicants, including those that received an award. These will be published at the TAACCCT Web site at

3:12 Comment From Timothy Vollmer: With regard to "Priority 4: Strengthening Online and Technology-Enabled Learning," I think it would be useful to make it a priority in future waves to require open technical standards for all content produced (e.g., open file formats), and also to ensure that any materials produced does not require proprietary software for end users to access and use the materials.

3:13 Comment From rgrover: Priorities were in line. Capacity building for innovative placement strategies might be another to consider.

3:13 Comment From Guest: The SGA's request for and use of data to ensure applications were making data informed program and strategy decision was excellent. Something to consider is to require WIA partners and State Workforce Groups assist in sharing the data and/or creating reports. In some cases, it was difficult to get data from state agencies on state-wide success of TAA participants in a meaningful way.

3:13 Comment From Jenni: We had a positive experience with our industry partners. While we had strong existing partnerships, the focused discussion about this project directed the way we developed it - in fact, changed our original concept to address the specific needs of industry.

3:13 Comment From Lou: I completely agree with Timothy Vollmer 3:12

3:14 Comment From Rich Williams: I agree with Cable. Taxpayer-funded educational resources should be open educational resources.

3:15 Comment From Steve: Since many institutions and consortia that apply for this type of funding are eager to learn from both their successes and their failures (regarding their planning, their concept, and their responsiveness to particular questions and sections), it would be helpful in future SGAs to have a short section indicating exactly how, when, and through what process an applicant can expect -- or not expect -- to receive detailed or general feedback on the application submitted. Such a section can pre-empt many questions that applicants have, post-award-announcement, by indicating clearly and pre-emptively what applicants should expect regarding obtaining overall grant scores, section-by-section points won & lost, and qualitative feedback about the application overall (and about specific questions). I believe many applicants are currently wondering what they proposed that worked and did not work, in the eyes of the reviewers and DOL/ETA, but we are not able to use a forum like this to ask questions about that important information. Such information allows us to learn from our large investments of time, energy, and collaboration... and leverage our learnings for the benefits of those served by DOL/ETA and by the applicant organizations. DOL/ETA thoughts about this?

3:15 Comment From Deb: In the 2nd round, are you required to fund so much to each state or is that over with after the first round and you get these states taken care of that didn't apply?

3:15 ETA: Deb, thanks for your question. Section 279(b) of the Trade Act of 1974 specifies that not less than 0.5 percent of the amount appropriated for these grant awards, or $2.5 million, will support eligible institutions in each state per SGA round.

3:16 Comment From Guest: @ Timothy Vollmer 3:12 -- right on! It's not enough that the content produced has an open license (though that is critical) -- we need some required technical interoperability requirements... so my college can mix and match the content produced by the grantees.

3:16 Comment From Melissa: I agree with Jenni at 3:13, the employer partner was key. The community engagement became busy work with little benefit to the community or the project.

3:17 ETA: Was there any concept in the SGA that was confusing or unclear? Such as:
* Continual Improvement
* Evidence-Based Strategies
* Collaboration
* Industry/Community Partnerships
* Sustainability

3:17 Comment From Melissa: Steve 3:15 has an excellent point!

3:18 Comment From James Grossklag: Re industry/community partnerships--we were not sure whether a for-profit enttity could participate as a named partner, or needed to be a sub-award.

3:18 ETA: Steve @3:15, thank you for your thoughtful comments. ETA will take this into consideration in the future.

3:19 Comment From Guest: RE: ETA question on concepts, hard to answer without seeing the reviewers comments. We think we got them, but the reviewers may have thought differently.

3:19 Comment From Jeff Davidson: Agreed with a couple comments above ""Taxpayer-funded educational resources should be open educational resources."

3:20 Comment From Lori: Will the amount of funding available for each State in the second round be impacted by the grants given in the first round?

3:20 Comment From Deb: So that means if a state got $2.5M in the first round there is no requirement for them to get more in the 2nd round. Is that right?

3:20 ETA: Thanks, Lori and Deb. Section 279(b) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 USC 2372a(b)), specifies that not less than 0.5 percent of the amount appropriated for these grants awards for each of the fiscal years 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 will support eligible institutions in each State. In the case of an award to a consortium, the proportion of funding allocated to each member in the Budget Narrative will be used to attribute the funding amount to the state in which the consortium member institution resides.

3:20 Comment From Jenni: The evidence-based strategies concept was excellent. I wish there was more emphasis on using those strategies as a base and adding innovative ideas. Innovation was not emphasized as much as it could be.

3:20 Comment From Guest: Ongoing confusion during proposal writing whether partners were to be subrecipients or vendors or some other type of arrangement.

3:21 Comment From Guest: While we thought we did a great job on the evidence-based strategies, until we review reader's comments it is difficult to know if our references were aligned appropriately, if they were the 'right' ones, and if we gave them adequate coverage in our narrative.

3:21 Comment From Guest: It seems people didn't have many major issues with the SGA itself, but are more concerned about having enough time to prepare for the deadline on Round 2. I imagine we all had a project we thought was good, but now we need to re-tool with insight from the reader's comments.

3:22 Comment From Guest: I would like to see reader comments and scoring for funded proposals in addition to our unfunded proposal.

3:25 Comment From Lori: I want to restate my question: If a State got one of the larger grants the first round does that limit that state's chance of getting an equally large grant in the second round (or, will the large grants be reserved for the States that only got minimal funding the first round)?

3:25 ETA: Hi Lori, thanks for your questions. At this time we have provided all the information that we can about the second round.

3:25 Comment From James Grossklag: With the SGA and industry partners--we were not sure whether a for-profit entity could be a named partner or needed to be a sub-award. We did appreciate the detailed information about what activitiies would make an entity a sub-award. But would for-profit status automatically exclude an entity from being a named partner?

3:25 Comment From ML Forward: I also support the open licensing of materials. This type of open sharing allows for wider impact beyond the reach of a particular institution. What kind of follow up is envisioned to ensure the materials are released openly?

3:26 Comment From Lori: Thank you ETA (3:25).

3:27 Comment From Lori: I would like to know about for-profit involvement as well, particularly propriety training organizations.

3:27 ETA: For those with members that applied in Round 1, do you believe you have the necessary information to access third party evaluation resources to support your grant application?

3:28 Comment From rgrover: Are reviewer comments on their way or will we need to make a special request for them.

3:28 ETA: Rgrover, you will need to request these comments from the Grants Office, please contact the TAACCCT Grants Specialist Melissa Abdullah,

3:28 Comment From Melissa: The SGA was very complex and required an enormous amount of time to respond to by multiple people on our team. At this point I cannot comment if the those key components were clear due to the fact we have not seen our scores. We believed we addressed each point in line with our overall plan. There were some SGA components that were not priority due to no points assigned. Just requirements.

3:28 Comment From Guest: I'm wondering about how the 'consortium' applications were defined. Does this being defined as wide openly as it would enhance more creative proposals with strong common framework and commitment or a gathering of a group of community colleges where one or two do the majority of the planning/work. Can an institution that was on five submitted consortiums (none of them lead) really have contributed fully and gained industry commitment fully on all five.

3:30 Comment From rgrover: Because of the open licensing issue, there was ongoing confusion about ability to use third party training modules for example, particularly if it was associated with a piece of equipment that the funds were going to purchase. Perhaps this could be covered more clearly in the second round

3:31 Comment From Guest: The requirements of the SGA were very onerous. We are trying to weigh the great need we have to find funding for our project against the number of hours required from many individuals to put the proposal together.

3:32 DOL Moderator: We have been getting some great comments so far! Keep them coming.

3:32 Comment From Lori: When will the round 2 proposal be due (how many months after the call for proposals is released in late 2011 or early 2012)?

3:32 ETA: Thanks for your question, Lori. All information regarding the second round requirements will be available when the SGA is published. ETA anticipates that the TAACCCT Round 2 Solicitation for Grant Application (SGA) will be announced in late 2011 or early 2012. We encourage you to monitor ETA’s Web site for this announcement. All Federal solicitations are posted in the Federal Register at, and DOL-specific information is also available on our Web site at Additional information on TAACCCT solicitations will be posted on the TAACCCT Web site at

3:34 Comment From Guest: 90 days is the bare minimum to put these applications together. Either do not make major changes, or increase the time to 120 days.

3:35 ETA: Was there sufficient time between the date the solicitation for grant applications was published and the closing date for receipt of applications under that announcement?

3:35 ETA: For those eligible institutions that intended to apply under round 1 but did not, what specific reasons or features of the program impacted this decision?

3:36 Comment From Guest: If you had a project ready to go and already had some preliminary planning, there was enough time. If you were starting from scratch, it was a real scramble.

3:36 Comment From Guest: We began working the day the SGA was released and did not waste a minute. We were still racing right up to the finish line.

3:36 Comment From Guest: Because we were aware that the TAACCCT grant release was in the works we started community outreach and planning three months ahead of the actual release date. We could not have gotten everything pulled together if we had not of started ahead of time and built on strategies currently in development in our state.

3:37 Comment From Guest: We had hoped to apply the first round and did not for 2 reasons: time to develop a coalition and confusion about whether a 4-year school was eligible to apply.

3:37 Comment From rgrover: I think the bigger difficulty with the deadline is that there were other DOL proposal due at the same time that partners were pursuing as well. People's time was spread thin and couldn't keep project straight.

3:38 Comment From Guest: We determined our consortium and started preparing (using the SGA sample on the DOL website) when the project was still a rumor -- early fall 2010. We couldn't have done it in 90 days.

3:38 Comment From Deb: It was particularly hard for large consortium applications.

3:38 Comment From Melissa: NO, we assigned three full time people to this task to meet each criteria with integrity, reaching out to the community with a tangible need/goal and were working across the state to build a TRUE consortium. 90 days was not enough. However we did pull it together for a great submission. Without committed people freed from other responsibilities it would have been impossible.

3:38 Comment From Guest: Yes, it was not enough time to create a coalition, an idea, and a project. You really had to have had some relationships and priorities in place previous to learning about the opportunity. NOT enough time to do a good job.

3:38 Comment From Guest: If the DOL has funding guidelines by state, I would rather see those published. We have a small state, nearly not as large a TAA population as most, really could our state have received $14 to $20M --- we ended up at around $3M in the ultimate award. This would help states size their projects realistically, if in fact, numbers to be served based on size of TAA population is a piece of the review

3:39 Comment From MLC: We agree with Deb 3:38. Very challenging to be in a large consortium.

3:39 Comment From Steve: It seems very unclear in the SGA what conditions specifically would trigger DOL/ETA to choose to decline funding ANY applicant in a particular state during the first round... and, in such situations, how DOL/ETA goes about selecting from among the applicants (or even perhaps among some state agencies that did not apply) the entity within such a 'non-awarded' state that will win the privilege of working together with DOL/ETA to build a winning application for a later round to assure that at least one worthy project in each state is funded. Such transparency about this process in the SGA would be very helpful. (For instance if three entities in a state submitted proposals requesting $10 million and all three are not of sufficient quality to win a grant, what happens? Why in some cases might a (a non-applying) entity in the state be awarded the minimum $2.5 million dollars [perhaps even in Round 1?] while in other cases or other 'non-awarded' states, DOL/ETA would work together [with one (or more?) of the leading applicants that requested $10 million] via a collaborative process of fine-tuning the leading proposal(s) such that a leading proposal becomes a fit? Thoughts from DOL/ETA about clarifying this further in upcoming SGA?

3:40 ETA: For those higher education participants, are you currently offering “stackable” credentials? Do you have plans to do so in the future? What are your resource barriers?

3:41 Comment From Melissa: @3:38, that made little difference. Our state is #2 in TAA workers and the consortia funded partnered with 8 colleges outside of our state. Very little money is staying in state to meet the overwhelming need.

3:43 Comment From Guest: Yes, stackable credentials are being offered and programmed in credit and noncredit pathway programs -- industry credentials, academic credentials, and locally defined industry sector credentials.

3:43 Comment From Guest: @ETA3:40 Staffing to work with employers to determine need and build relevant curriculum. Yes our college offers stackable credentials.

3:43 Comment From Guest: Consortium projects were very difficult to put together. We dedicated the time of three full-time people; the estimated equivalent of 2 additional FTE between all of our partners; and multiple administrators, faculty and agency employees. These people dedicated their time for 90 days to develop the project.

3:44 Comment From MLC: I think there needs to be clearer guidelines pertaining to stackable credentials from the DOL. Our institution offers NAM stackable credentials but only portions of our state and DOL recognize them.

3:44 Comment From rgrover: Agreeing with others that staffing to work with employers is a barrier.

3:45 Comment From Guest: @3:43 agree staffing to work with industry sectors

3:45 Comment From Gavin Baker: I really appreciate the open licensing clause in the grant. It's a very important way to get the most for taxpayer money by sharing what the grants produce. I encourage the department to include the clause in other grants as well.

3:46 Comment From Denise: There was definitely not sufficient time between release of solicitation and closing date. However, while the requirements took alot of time, the SGA was not clear enough in it's requirements. It was difficult to determine what was actually needed. We had 5 very experienced grantwriters trying to determine what was being asked of us. We would get going on track and reread a section and determine that maybe that wasn't what we needed to provide. Requirements were not always explicit enough or were stated a different way in another section causing confusion. A more concise SGA would have helped alot. A longer timeframe without a concise SGA will still cause confusion

3:47 Comment From Lori: What is a "stackable" credential?

3:47 ETA: Hi, Lori. You can find out about stackable credentials here:

3:47 ETA: Were there any parts of the Round 1 SGA that were confusing and should therefore be addressed before Round 2?

3:48 Comment From Guest: @ Gavin Baker (3:45) - agree completely - and not for just other DOL grants. We, the taxpayers, need all other federal agencies to follow DOL's lead. We paid for the content, the research, data - we should have open and free access to it.

3:48 Comment From James Grossklag: Yes, the eligibility of for-profit entitites to be named partners in the consortium, or whether they had to be sub-awards.

3:49 Comment From Steve: The most confusing parts reflect what's already been mentioned regarding being asked to divide up the cost distinctly among the priority areas... even though specific strategies could address more than one priority area if implemented effectively.

3:50 ETA: What was the most surprising thing you learned during the community outreach process?

3:50 Comment From Guest: We interpreted hiring a for-profit entity (say, for evaluation) as a contract.

3:50 Comment From Guest: @3:46 YES! You are so right. Our experience team from very involved partners struggled to go through the quagmire of the SGA. Please ETA, clean it up and you will be benefited by the quality proposals you recieve.

3:50 Comment From MLC: We agree with Denise at 3:46.

3:50 Comment From Jennifer: Agree with James G's question (3:48) about eligibility of for-profit entities.

3:51 Comment From Guest: Questions we had to clarify details in the SGA about sub-award and open license for example were answered with instruction to refer to SGA. We stopped asking questions as a result.

3:51 Comment From GuestBB: RE: ETA question on why institutions chose not to apply - Smaller institutions such as ours lack the grant development and grant management infrastructure to lead development and management of a large multi-partner consortium. We participated as partners in several proposals, one funded. The challenge of participation in three was nearly overwhelming to available time and effort resources.

3:51 Comment From Guest: @3:50 How disengaged state agencies are from one another. We all have similar goals but no framework to work together.

3:52 Comment From GuestBB: Agree with Steve 3:49 about confusing aspects of SGA.

3:52 Comment From Guest: I think we all interpreted the SGA through our own lens; the readers' comments will clarify if our interpretations were the same as DOL.

3:52 Comment From Matthew Riley: Going back the comment of what's considered a high priorioty area, the State of Mississippi certaintly fall in that catergory.

3:53 Comment From Guest: Funded proposals should provide some clarity as well.

3:54 ETA: We will be wrapping up soon. Do you have any more comments for us? Thanks for everything so far.

3:54 Comment From Matthew Riley: Here in our state of Mississippi, we have a unified group of core community colleges that work well together to pursue funding.

3:54 Comment From Guest: We will all need the readers' comments in time to review and revise where needed. It is difficult to know how close we came to the mark. Hopefully we can get them well before the next SGA is released.

3:54 Comment From Deb: Thank you - this is a wonderful idea!

3:55 Comment From Steve: This forum, and holding it on two different days to accommodate different people's schedules, is helpful. Perhaps also holding them at two different times of day will enable even more people to participate. Thank you so much for requesting feedback and considering it.

3:57 Comment From Guest: When is the Round 2 SGA coming out, and what's the deadline? Just kidding--I know the answer. :o)

3:57 Comment From Guest: One more forum after receiving readers comments or even offering a FAQ would be great.

3:57 Comment From Steve: I agree with Guest @ 3:54

3:57 Comment From Guest: Thank you ETA for hearing our concerns.

3:58 Comment From ML Forward: I appreciate the DoL's support of community colleges as important sites of retraining possibilities, along with the Department's support of collaborative creation of materials and open sharing of these materials.

3:59 Comment From Guest: THANK YOU!

3:59 Comment From Denise: I agree with @3:57. This is a great idea. Thank you ETA!

4:00 ETA: Thank you everyone for the feedback we received today. If you additional comments specific to the first SGA, you can email them to For additional information about the TAACCCT program, grantees awarded under the first round of the program, and future TAACCCT funding opportunities, please visit the TAACCCT Web site at

An archived version of this chat will be available on this page soon.

Have a great afternoon!

4:00 :



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