Benchmarks of Success Issue 26, May 2021

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Monthly Newsletter  -  Issue 26, May 2021

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Career Pathways Connections for Adult Learners

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) stresses the importance of co-enrolling customers in WIOA Title I (Adults, Dislocated Workers and Youth), and WIOA Title II (Adult and Family Literacy) as a best practice for maximizing customers’ access to resources and accelerating the rate at which Title II customers could achieve their academic and career goals. Unfortunately, the minimum literacy, numeracy, and English language prerequisites for participation in Title I programs frequently prevented adult learners enrolled under Title II from accessing job preparation courses and occupational training opportunities that could help them achieve economic security and family sustaining wages.

The Maryland Department of Labor decided to take on the challenge of increasing co-enrollment by investing over $1 million of WIOA Governor’s Set-Aside funds into an innovative Career Pathway Connections for Adult Learners pilot program.

Five local workforce development areas (LWDAs) were awarded funds under the grant program to support demonstration projects:

  • Baltimore City
  • Mid Maryland (Howard and Carroll counties)
  • Prince George’s County
  • Anne Arundel County
  • Western Maryland (Washington, Garrett, and Allegany counties)

The LWDAs implemented programs that offered contextualized training and employment programs for adult learners who were basic skills deficient and interested in career opportunities. Participants received training in careers such as diesel technician, dental assisting, finishing trades, patient care technician, and many more. One hundred and sixty-six individuals participated in these programs in the 2020 cohort.

For more information on Career Pathways Programs in Maryland, visit


US Dept of Ed


COVID-19 Corner

National COVID-19 Resources for Adult Education Providers

The Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) is a national leadership initiative of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). LINCS is a go-to resource for Maryland adult education providers and program administrators seeking professional development opportunities. 

LINCS has created a COVID-19 Resource Page that offers with useful resources to help adult education programs.

  • LINCS’ Integrating Technology Community group offers the opportunity to join robust discussions on initiating or scaling up online learning opportunities for adult learners and provides a curated list of online learning resources.
  • The LINCS Learner Center compiles federally-funded resources, categorized across seven life goals: Learn to Read; Learn Math; Learn Science; Learn English; Get Job Skills; Become a U.S. Citizen; and Stay Healthy. Visitors can also find freely-available activities to help students continue to learn at a distance.

In addition to the LINCS resources, the Department of Education created a COVID-19 Information and Resource page that provides guidance and resources for schools and school personnel that is chock-full of information and regularly updated.

Quick Resources

Benchmarks of Success Resource Page

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Resource Page

Maryland’s State Workforce Plan


Upcoming 2021 Newsletters

6/22, 7/20, 8/24, 9/21, 10/26, 11/23



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Career Pathways Connections - Zap the Gap!

Zap the gap

About the Program

The Mid Maryland LWDA implemented its Career Pathway Connections for Adult Learners demonstration project through the American Job Center in Howard County, in partnership with Howard Community College, the Howard County Library System and local employers. The three-phase program was developed to address the employment needs of foreign-born candidates seeking training and experience in the healthcare field.

In the initial phase, the participants began an English language learning curriculum, completed career exploration activities and learned essential skills for the healthcare industry. The second phase of the program prepared them to obtain their Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Patient Care Technician (PCT) certificates. Concurrent with occupational training, participants also focused on learning English terminology used in the CNA coursework. The third and final phase of Zap the Gap! provided participants with job search assistance and support to help them succeed on their new career path.

Ms. S. earns professional credentials, gains work experience, and moved into full-time employment.

Ms. S. immigrated to the United States (U.S.) from Cambodia. During the first eight years of her life in the U.S., she stayed home to care for her two young children while her husband worked to provide for the family. Although she was glad she was able to spend time with her children, she longed for the day when she could also contribute to the family's income. She was ready to enter the workforce when her children reached school age, but with only a high school diploma, limited English language skills and no work experience in the U.S. her employment options were limited. That was before she discovered Zap the Gap!

Ms. S. thrived in the program as she strengthened her mastery of English and gained professional skills. After earning her CNA credential, she landed a part-time CNA job and began the process of building a work history. Upon earning her PCT credential, she was hired on for a full-time role at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Ms. S. was proud of her accomplishments and grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Zap the Gap! program, which allowed her to reach her goal of providing financial assistance to her family.

Workforce Partners

Maryland Department of Labor                                                                  Maryland Department of Human Services

Maryland State Department of Education                                                Governor's Workforce Development Board

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development                            Maryland Workforce Association

Did You Know...?

Maryland's Latest Workforce Development Updates

  • Maryland Association of Adult, Community and Continuing Education (MAACCE) 2021 Conference -  Maryland’s adult education program was well represented at the annual conference of the Maryland Association for Adult, Community, and Continuing Education (MAACCE), an event held virtually on May 20 and 21, 2021. The conference theme was, appropriately enough, “Navigating Our New Reality.”                     

    Deputy Assistant Secretary Erin Roth from the Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning at Maryland’s Department of Labor (Labor) joined Judy Mortrude from the National College Transition Network to deliver a presentation on Ability to Benefit.

    The conference also featured a panel that focused on Maryland innovations, including the Virtual Training Institute and the Digital Literacy Framework, as well as Adult Basic Education Standards. The following adult education leaders from Labor’s Office of Adult Education and Literacy Services served as panelists for the discussion:

    • Ellen Beattie, Bureau Chief for Adult Education
    • Jamie Harris, Education Program Specialist
    • Ramona Kunkel, Education Program Specialist

    To learn more about this organization, visit the MAACCE website.

    Maryland Literacy Facts

    Statistics for 7/1/2018 to 6/30/2019

    ·   Almost 350,000 Maryland adults between the ages of 18 and 64 lacked a high school credential.

    ·   Over 200,000 Marylanders did not speak English well or at all.

    ·   More than 25,000 Marylanders were enrolled in Adult Basic Education, Adult Secondary Education or English Language Acquisition programs.

    ·   Over 3,500 students were served through correctional education programs in the state.

    For more national and state-level statistics on adult education, visit the website for the National Association of State Directors of Adult Education.

  • Reflections from May: Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month -

    In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869.

    In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month long celebration that is now known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Per a 1997 United States (U.S.) Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: one being Asian and the other Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.

    May's observance gave Marylanders the chance to reflect on the many contributions AAPI residents make to the state’s communities, workforce and economy. Consider the following: 

    • An estimated 475,000 AAPI residents make Maryland their home according to the 2019 American Community Survey, accounting for 7.9% of the state’s population.
    • Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders have a labor participation rate in Maryland of 69%.
    • AAPI residents hold 172,605 Maryland jobs, comprising 6.8% of state’s workforce, in a diverse variety of occupations:
      • 61.6% are employed in management, business, science, and arts occupations
      • 15.8% are sales and office occupations
      • 14.9% are service occupations
      • 5.3% are production, transportation, and material moving occupations
      • 2.3% are natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations
    • For more information on Maryland's celebration of AAPI Heritage Month, visit the New Americans website.
  • Maryland Career Development Association - The Maryland Career Development Association will host the Maryland CARES - The Career Assistance, Resilience & Equity Summit on Friday, June 4, 2021. Community members across the region seeking employment and career assistance will have an opportunity during the virtual event to speak one-on-one with experienced career coaches and counselors for guidance, attend breakout sessions on career-related topics, and learn about career education programs and pathways leading to well-paying jobs and meaningful employment. For a full schedule and to register, go to
  • Virtual Training Institute Coming June 7-10, 2021 - This is the fourth year that Labor’s Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning will host a June session of the state’s Virtual Training Institute (VTI). This is one of two VTI events held annually – the other occurs each year in December.  The VTI offers a series of professional development training sessions targeted to support all stakeholders in adult education. To learn more and register, visit the VTI website.
  • From the desk of the Chief Learning Officer - Chief Learning Officer John Feaster chairs the WIOA Professional Development and Technical Assistance (PDTA) Committee, a group comprised of representatives from state and local workforce system partners. The PDTA committee guided the development of the Benchmarks of Success training series that began rolling out to state workforce staff early in 2021. The third module in the series will be released on June 7, 2021. The new module will focus on the Governor's Workforce Development Board, the governance of the workforce system and some of the entities behind the scenes providing leadership and creating policies.                                                                                        

  • Accessibility Tip of the Month - Free Webinar for Accessibility Beginners 

    Creating accessible materials is a big topic that can seem overwhelming, which is why this recurring newsletter feature always introduces a bite-sized concept readers can try out on their own. In the spirit of presenting helping information for non-experts, the Maryland Department of Disabilities Information Technology (IT) Accessibility Initiative recently delivered a free 45-minute webinar entitled, “Accessible Documents 101.”

    Readers can access a recording of the webinar, which offers a high-level overview of print disabilities, document types, and good design principles for accessible documents. The session facilitator provides step-by-step instructions for creating accessible documents and includes opportunities for learners to test their understanding. The IT Accessibility Initiative regularly adds new training opportunities on their Training Calendar. Check it out!

    The IT Accessibility Initiative was established to support state agencies in meeting Maryland's Non-Visual Access standards. The IT Accessibility Initiative's purposes are to improve policies and practices in state IT procurement and ensure equal access to state agency information technology for citizens with disabilities. 


Benchmarks of Success Newsletters


Benchmarks of Success Committee Updates

Committee Chairs welcome questions from newsletter readers regarding the work in which their groups are involved! To be connected with a committee's leadership team, feel free to contact the Communications Committee at

All committees are currently meeting virtually.

  • The Executive Steering Committee is composed of the agency leaders of the partner agencies who meet periodically to provide the WIOA Alignment Group with high-level guidance. You can learn more about the Executive Steering Committee’s ongoing activities here.
  • The WIOA Alignment Group is composed of the department and division-level leaders of partner agencies who meet on a monthly basis to collaboratively address issues, plan joint efforts, make recommendations to the Executive Steering Committee, and manage and guide the activities of the Benchmarks of Success committees. The WIOA Alignment Group meets on the last Monday of each month. The most recent meeting was held on April 26, 2021. Due to the Memorial Day holiday, the WIOA Alignment Group will not meet in May. The next meeting is scheduled for June 27, 2021. You can learn more about the WIOA Alignment Group’s ongoing activities here.
  • The Data and Dashboard Committee is comprised of representatives from partner agencies who possess subject matter expertise in program-based performance requirements and data collection methodologies and tools. The Committee meets on a quarterly basis to develop a consistent, sustainable system all workforce partners can use to measure, analyze, display, and apply Benchmarks data to continuously improve the quality and effectiveness of services. The Committee’s most recent meeting was held on May 18, 2021. The next meeting has not yet been scheduled. You can learn more about the Data and Dashboard Committee’s ongoing activities here.
  • The Communications Committee is comprised of representatives from partner agencies who possess subject matter expertise in programs and communications methods and tools. The Committee meets on a monthly basis to foster the integration of Maryland’s workforce system by broadly promoting the activities of the Benchmarks of Success committees and the services and resources of partner agencies and programs. The Committee produces this monthly newsletter as a forum for partners to share information on important developments that impact the system. The Committee held its most recent meeting on May 13, 2021. The group's next scheduled meeting will be held on June 10, 2021. You can learn more about the Communications Committee’s ongoing activities here.
  • The Policy Committee is comprised of representatives from partner agencies who possess subject matter expertise in workforce system policy issues. The Committee meets on a monthly basis to research policy issues and produces an annual Policy Recommendations Report. The recommendations included in the Report help to guide system priorities and initiatives. The Committee’s most recent meeting was held on May 20, 2021. The Committee's next meeting is scheduled for June 17, 2021. You can learn more about the Policy Committee’s ongoing activities here.
  • The Professional Development and Technical Assistance Committee works to advance a unified professional development program that helps all partner programs maximize access to and use of skills and credentialing and life management skills, eliminate barriers to employment through the use of supportive services, and strengthen and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the workforce system. The Committee held its most recent meeting on May 19, 2021. The next meeting is scheduled for June 16, 2021. You can learn more about the Professional Development and Technical Assistance Committee’s ongoing activities here.


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