Mayor Swearengin Launches Learn2Earn Initiative To Help Provide An Education ‘On Ramp’ for Adults

Calling adult education and job training the “path to prosperity” for Fresno, Mayor Ashley Swearengin today launched the Learn2Earn initiative, a public awareness campaign aimed at removing the obstacles for Fresno adults looking to obtain more education or gain additional skills for the changing workplace.

By providing an “education on-ramp” for Fresno residents who are unemployed or lack basic education or job training, Learn2Earn will address the “skills” gap in Fresno by promoting basic education and job training among Fresno’s workforce to meet the needs of area employers, Mayor Swearengin said.

“For many adults who want to return to school or get more job training, working their way through the maze of available adult education and training resources can be a daunting and frustrating task,” Mayor Swearengin said. “This initiative provides a simple way to get through that maze. With one phone call, they will be able to reach an advisor who can help them map out an education plan and get them into a program that is a good fit for them.”

Mayor Swearengin was joined by Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education with U.S. Department of Education, and partners from local public and private colleges, universities, vocational institutes and adult schools in announcing the Learn2Earn initiative at Cesar Chavez Adult School.

Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier said, “By helping adult learners achieve their education and career goals, we also help uplift the families, workplaces and communities that depend on their success.”

Adults looking to participate in the program should call 211, where they will talk with a Learn2Earn agent and participate in a brief survey. After completing the survey, the agent will transfer the caller to an education advisor, who will review the survey and conduct an initial screening to help assess educational goals and develop an education plan.

The advisor then will provide the adult with a personal introduction to an academic advisor at one or more educational institutions that are best suited for the individual. The participant’s information will be placed in a database shared by all the adult education providers to track where students are in the pipeline.

The short-term goal is to have 4,000 people enter the program, with at least 2,000 completing a training or degree program.

Mayor Swearengin said the city’s economic growth depends on preparing a skilled, qualified workforce for local businesses. More than 27 percent of Fresno County residents do not have a high school diploma, compared to the national average of 15.5 percent, yet the Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board’s 2010 Employment Study identifies 5,954 jobs available among the 1,419 employers interviewed in industries such as healthcare, logistics and distribution, manufacturing, and agribusiness.

“Even during these times of economic recession, thousands of jobs go unfilled because of the mismatch between the skills of the people looking for work and the skills required for the jobs that are open,” Mayor Swearengin said. “This program has the potential to have a lasting impact on our community by closing that skills gap.”

Learn2Earn will hold an Education and Training Fair at Lowell Elementary School, 171 N. Poplar Ave., on Thursday, April 26, from 4-7 p.m. to allow potential participants to visit with more than 20 local educational institutions and gather basic information on available programs. The fair also will include interactive Career Exploration Workshops.

Major partners in Learn2Earn are the City of Fresno, the Adult Education Taskforce, Fresno City College, the Fresno Housing Authority, the Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board, Fresno Unified School District, Heald College, State Center Community College District and United Way of Fresno County.

Media outlets ABC 30, CBS47, KSEE 24, Fox 26, Univision 21, KJWL Radio, Peak Broadcasting and Clear Channel also have agreed to run public service announcements about the initiative.

More information on the Learn2Earn program is available at