Snead State Community College Vice President of Finance and Administration Joe Whitmore recently completed the Community College Policy Fellows Program (CPFP), a 10-month professional development program sponsored by the Alabama Community College System and the Mississippi Community College Board.
“It was an honor to be a part of this experience. I appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the community college systems in Mississippi and Alabama and to collaborate with colleagues across both states for the benefit of advocating for our individual institutions,” said Whitmore.
Directed by Tyson Elbert of Advocacy Build, LLC, the curriculum focused on four national program pillars: policy, leadership, networking, and advocacy. It also highlighted comparative elements of both state systems.
Whitmore was one of 14 representatives from Alabama and 13 from Mississippi. The group met throughout the academic year to discuss state and national policies on education and to determine successful ways to advocate on behalf of college students in both states. The fellowship culminated with a trip to Washington, D.C., for the Washington Advocacy Seminar and meeting with education policymakers.
During the program, the group focused on three policy issues and requests, including protection of the federal Pell Grant program and requesting Pell grant funds for short-term certificate programs; second-chance Pell for incarcerated students, specifically the passage of the Restoring Education and Learning Act (REAL) of 2019; and new funding commitments for the Strengthening Community College Training Grants to build on the success of the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants program.
“The focus of the cohort I was a part of had to do with requesting additional funding for workforce development and career tech initiatives. We were able to speak directly with Congressional members as we advocated to re-allocate funding for the SCCT Grants and Career Training Grants. With the emphasis Snead State is putting on workforce development, advocating for additional funding for these initiatives through the CPFP program comes at the perfect time for our area,” he said.
While in Washington, the fellows met with every member of the two state’s congressional delegations, along with Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. They also met with the Association of Community College Trustees, the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for American Progress, and the Vera Institute of Justice.