Lone Star College (LSC) and a coalition of national education and veteran advocacy organizations have announced pilot sites for the Military Credentialing Advancement Initiative (MCAI). The project will help service members and veterans apply their military-based skills and training toward civilian credentials.

“This collaboration is to ensure the high-quality learning that is gained by service members can be fully recognized, counted toward a credential, and scaled at a national level,” said Linda Leto Head, LSC senior vice chancellor, External and Employer Relations.

The MCAI pilot pathways grant recipients are LSC, Utility Workers Union of America, Indiana Wesleyan University, and the Kansas Board of Regents. Each of the four pilot sites are leveraging one-year grants between $150,000-$200,000. These funds will be used to build pathways to allow service members and veterans — particularly men and women of color — to apply the skills and credentials they gained in service toward continued education and employment as civilians.

Statistics show that of the roughly 200,000 veterans who enter the civilian workforce each year, only about 50,000 have the credentials needed to land good jobs with family-sustaining wages. Though the Department of Defense and Uniformed Services have taken steps to remedy this, more than 70% of former servicemen and women still must retrain, requalify or start over in education.

This is especially true for service members of color who make up 43% of the active-duty force. More than half of Black, Hispanic and Native American service members are clustered in four occupations that lack clear paths to civilian credentials and jobs.

Data also show 57% of veterans say they hold a non-degree credential and less than 2.5% of active-duty members in 2016 had completed a degree program. These figures show that lack of recognition of learning continues to hamper service members and veterans as they pursue further education and employment.

“Lone Star College has worked hard to provide our military services members the support they deserve,” said Head. “I am very proud of the efforts made by Lone Star College to secure this critical funding to assist in those efforts.”

The MCAI pilot sites are supported by The American Legion, Ascendium Education Group, Greater Texas Foundation, Lumina Foundation, and Rockefeller Philanthropy advisers.

Ascendium’s funding will support a detailed evaluation of the pilot initiative as it unfolds over 18 months. The formative evaluation, which will be conducted by an independent research firm, DVP-Praxis, seeks to highlight the lessons MCAI grantees learn as they map military competencies and build new credential pathways.

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