Benchmarks of Success Issue 33, February 2022

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Monthly Newsletter  -  Issue 33, February 2022

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Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) Maryland - A Solution for Businesses and Workers

Frontline staff across Maryland’s workforce system work hard every day to reach the individuals who are most in need with coordinated services and resources. But coordinating and integrating services in such a large system with so many partner programs can get pretty complex. Which program will be the best fit for a customer? Which employers are looking for which skill sets? This month’s newsletter focuses on the EARN Maryland (EARN) program, an award-winning state-funded competitive grant program that has answers to these questions – and more.

What is EARN?

The EARN program was launched in 2014 as a new approach to serving workers and businesses. EARN helps unemployed, underemployed, and incumbent workers by creating formal career paths to good jobs, reducing barriers to employment, and sustaining or growing middle class jobs. EARN enables Maryland's most hard-to-serve jobseekers to gain access to job readiness training which may include GED® preparation, occupational skills development, literacy advancement, and transportation and child care components. At the same time, EARN helps businesses by focusing intensively on the workforce needs of specific industry sectors over a sustained period. The program is active in diverse sectors located in every region of the state.

How Does EARN Maryland Work?

The EARN program is driven by employer needs. Grants are awarded to Strategic Industry Partnerships (SIPs) comprised of employers, non-profits, higher education, local workforce development boards, and local governments. SIPs work together to address the multiple needs of companies, starting with the training of skilled workers. In addition to addressing employer needs, the EARN model streamlines the process of serving participants with barriers to employment, maximizing their chances for success. Once formed, these SIPs develop and implement plans to train and educate workers, using the power of coordination across education, workforce, and economic development entities to support participants and place them in meaningful employment.

Why is EARN a success story?

EARN has been recognized as a best practice by numerous organizations, including the National Skills Coalition and the Urban Institute, for its unique program design and work in implementing sector strategies. EARN was named one of the Top 25 programs in the 2018 Innovations in American Government Award competition by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, a leading research center at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Most recently, EARN was cited in a report published by the National Skills Coalition for its investment in incumbent worker training.

To understand why the EARN program has been so widely recognized as a best practice, consider the following facts included in the recently released EARN Maryland Annual Report to the General Assembly for 2021

  • Since the inception of the program, more than 6,800 individuals have obtained employment.
  • Close to 9,500 incumbent workers have benefitted from critical upskilling opportunities.
  • In a recent study on the economic impact of EARN, the Business Economic and Community Outreach Network (BEACON) at Salisbury University found that for every dollar the state invests into the program, an additional $16.78 in economic activity is created. The national average for programs similar to EARN is $3.41.
  • EARN grants are supporting projects in diverse industry sectors in every region of the state.

If you would like to learn more about the EARN program and how it can support the employment goals of individuals you serve, visit the program’s website, download the recently published 2021 EARN Maryland Annual Report, or reach out to


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Elijah forges a new career path with help from the EARN program.


When Elijah enrolled in EARN training offered by Maryland New Directions, he was receiving Temporary Cash Assistance, had been unemployed for nearly six months, and was living in transitional housing. Though he was determined to succeed, he also had a criminal background, which added to the barriers he faced. Through the EARN program, Elijah was able to earn Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) 10 and forklift certifications. He also received transportation assistance, which made it possible for him to get to and from training. Soon after graduation, Elijah was hired as a Material Handler at a starting wage of $22.50 per hour. With a new job and competitive salary, Elijah is looking forward to moving to permanent housing and getting his life back on track.

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

  • Annual Report Tracks Career Outcomes for High School Graduates - 

    The Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center (MDLS) and the Governor's Workforce Development Board (GWDB) recently released the 2021 Career Preparation Expansion Act Report. This annually-published report highlights the critical relationship between educational attainment and subsequent success in the workforce by analyzing how high school graduates are doing during the early stages of their careers. The 2021 report presents data for 2015 graduates from Maryland high schools, including wages earned, hours worked per week, and employment by industry sector during the first five years after graduation.

    Consistent with earlier cohorts analyzed in previous reports, a majority of the high school students in the 2015 cohort followed the traditional pathway from high school to college. Seventy-six percent of the cohort had or continue to have some involvement with college during the first five years following high school. Also consistent with prior reports, the median quarterly wages are higher for those with a college degree than for those without a degree, and employment is highest in the Trade, Transportation, & Utilities (29%) sector.

  • Maryland Celebrates Black History Month - 

    The National Black History Month, also commonly referred to as African American History Month, is a nationwide celebration observed each February to recognize the contributions African Americans have made to the history of the United States (U.S.). Black Marylanders make a vital contribution to the state’s economy, comprising 28% of the workforce, for a total of 665,185 jobs. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Economic Studies, Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics, 2020) 

  • Governor Hogan Announces Enhanced Benefits for Utility and Electric Assistance to Address Rise in Heating Costs -

    Governor Larry Hogan announced that, to address the rise in heating costs, recipients of the state’s utility and electric assistance will receive enhanced benefits during this home heating season. The state is also increasing funding for weatherization assistance programs to improve energy conservation. A total of 64 million dollars was announced and will be divided among several programs, which will be administered by the Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

    Residents in need of energy assistance may apply online, mail in an application, or apply in person at a local Home Energy Program Office located in each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions. Detailed information on how to apply can be found on the DHS website.

    Visit the DHS and DHCD websites for additional program details, including eligibility information, contact information, and answers to frequently asked questions.

  • B'More Healthy Expo 2022 is coming in March! 

    The annual B’More Healthy Expo will be held on Saturday, March 26 from 10 am – 4 pm at the Baltimore Convention Center! Workforce system customers can benefit from a variety of offerings that will be available during the Expo, which is designed to engage, entertain, educate, and empower families to take actions and make choices to be more healthy. Best of all, The B’More Healthy Expo will connect participants with community resources that will include free health screening, sports & fitness, healthy cooking and nutrition, financial fitness, life-saving skills training, mental health services, and career exploration. Visit the Expo website for more information!

  • The Monthly Labor Review

    The Maryland Department of Labor’s Labor Market Information Team publishes the Maryland Monthly Labor Review at the beginning of each month. The Review is chock-full of valuable information! Below is a sampling from the February issue on Maryland's Road to Recovery. 

    As of December 2021, Maryland has regained 81.0% of the total jobs lost at the beginning of the pandemic - over 324,000 jobs have been recovered. Maryland's unemployment rate decreased to 5.0%, a 4 point decrease since its peak in April 2020. Carroll and Howard counties had the lowest unemployment rate in Maryland at 3.0%, followed closely by Queen Anne's County at 3.1%. Prince George's County made the most progress on reducing its unemployment rate, with a reduction of 1.1 percentage points from November's rate. You can access the report at and the Maryland Workforce Exchange (MWE)

    Did You Know?

    Columbia has been named "best city for jobs" in the United States for 2022 by WalletHub. WalletHub compared 182 cities - including the 150 most populated U.S. cities.

  • Labor's Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning (DWDAL) Issues New Data Validation Policy -

    Labor recently issued a comprehensive data validation policy and procedures for many programs across Maryland’s workforce system. Data validation is a series of internal controls or quality assurance techniques established to verify the accuracy, validity, and reliability of data. Establishing a joint data validation framework based on a consistent approach shared throughout Maryland will ensure that all program data are consistent and accurately reflect the performance of each program. The policy includes guidelines for all WIOA core programs, as well as information from federal guidance for non-core programming included in the list below.

    • Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth programs (Title I)
    • Adult Education and Family Literacy Act program (Title II)
    • Wagner-Peyser (Title III)
    • Vocational Rehabilitation program (Title IV)
    • National Dislocated Worker Grants (NDWG)
    • Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)
    • Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program
    • Jobs for Veterans State Grant (JVSG) program
    • Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFW) program
    Access the policy on DWDAL’s Policy Issuance web page.
  • From the desk of the Chief Learning Officer for Maryland's Workforce System, John Feaster III -

    In response to recent demand, access to the Benchmarks of Success eLearning series has been opened to Local Workforce Development Board members. 

    The previously released modules are listed below:

    • Introduction to the HUB
    • Benchmarks of Success
    • The Governor’s Workforce Development Board
    • Understanding Title I
    • Understanding Title II
    • Understanding Title III

    For more information on these learning opportunities, feel free to reach out to me at

    Upcoming Professional Development Opportunity!

    The National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) Hosts 2022 Winter Training Conference

    NASCSP will be hosting their 2022 Winter Training Conference from February 28 - March 3. The theme for this year’s conference is Empowering People – Changing Lives. The event offers valuable opportunities for professionals from around the country to come together and discuss strategies for meeting new challenges in improved performance, innovation, and accountability in the fight to change the face of poverty across the nation. For health and safety reasons, this conference will be a virtual event. Early bird registration prices end on January 31. View the conference webpage for more information.

    Registration is open for the 2022 Conference for the Coalition on Adult Basic Education

    The 2022 Conference of the Coalition on Adult Basic Education will be delivered via a hybrid format. The Pre-Conference will be held on April 10. The full conference will be held from April 11 – 13. Register here.                                        


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 typically meets on the last Monday of each month. The most recent meeting was held on January 13, 2021. The next meeting is scheduled for February 28, 2022. 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 quarterly meeting was held on February 15, 2022. The group's next meeting is scheduled for May 10, 2022. 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 Benchmarks of Success newsletter is the committee's main deliverable. The newsletter serves as a central forum targeting frontline service providers, where partners can share information on important developments that impact the system. The Committee held its most recent meeting on February 10, 2022. The group's next meeting is scheduled for March 10, 2022. 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 November 18, 2021. The Committee's next meeting is to be determined. 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 typically meets on the third Wednesday of each month. The group held its most recent meeting on February 16, 2022 and has the next meeting scheduled for March 16, 2022. You can learn more about the Professional Development and Technical Assistance Committee’s ongoing activities here.


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