President Obama's American Graduation Initiative and Copper Mountain College

    July 19, 2009


    JOSHUA TREE, Ca –Last Tuesday, President Obama laid out his $12 billion plan to reform the nation's community colleges as part of a larger push to retrain unemployed workers and prepare the U.S. workforce for an increasingly competitive global economy.

    President Obama’s proposals would add $2.5 billion into building and technology upgrades, $9 billion toward efforts to increase student success, and $500 million into grants to help develop online courses that, in some cases, would be free. The goal: to help 5 million more Americans earn degrees and certificates by 2020.

    "In the coming years, jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience," Obama said. "We will not fill those jobs — or keep those jobs on our shores — without the training offered by community colleges."
    While Obama’s proposal will affect community colleges nationwide, a breakdown below shows how it may or may not affect the California Community College system and the steps the Chancellor is planning to take;

    •    Approximately 25 percent of all community college students nationwide are enrolled in a California Community College.
    •    Chancellor Scott applauds President Obama's recognition of the role California Community Colleges play in economic recovery and his proposed $12 billion investment in community college job training programs.
    •    The Chancellor will be aggressive in seeking to draw down this federal funding.  
    •    The additional federal funds will not solve our state budget issues, but it will definitely help.
    •    The California Community Colleges are the largest provider of workforce training in the nation.
    •    The community colleges are very popular but not rich.  We are already strained with approximately 50,000 unfunded students on our campuses.  The proposed cuts to the state budget will strain us further.    
    •    Many of our colleges currently have hundreds of students on waiting lists for popular classes and programs. We anticipate additional courses will be cut.
    •    In addition to offering basic skills education and serving students seeking to transfer to four year colleges, colleges are focusing resources and efforts on job training programs that can get dislocated workers back in the workforce in as quickly as six months.  

    While we are excited about the possibilities that the Obama proposal extends, the impact is not likely to offset the budget cuts CMC has already taken and those anticipated in the weeks ahead.  It is certainly exciting to hear that the Obama leadership recognizes the vital role community colleges play in workforce and job creation; however the plan will require Congressional approval. We will continue to watch closely as this proposal moves forward, and we have already begun to look at how our current and developing programs might benefit from the proposal.

    For general information regarding Copper Mountain College visit us at or call 760.366.3791.