LINCS Learner Center Launched for Adult Education and Family Literacy Week

LINCS Learner Center Topic Icons

LINCS Learner Center Homepage


OCTAE has launched an online center to direct adult learners to free, high-quality resources related to education, job and life skills. The LINCS Learner Center complements OCTAE’s priority goal to make on-demand learning available for teachers and students.

A call to action in OCTAE’s February 2015 report, Making Skills Everyone’s Business: A Call to Transform Adult Learning in the United States, identified the need and potential to reach more low-skilled adults through online, on-demand tools.

The Learner Center, opening during the 2015 National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, #AEFLWeek, is a gateway to resources from many federal agencies and organizations. Resources accessed through the site can help adult learners improve their reading, writing, math, science, and English skills; build job skills; acquire an understanding of American government and history to obtain citizenship; and find a nearby adult education, computer training, or postsecondary education or training program.

Developed to be mobile-friendly, the site brings resources to learners in class, on the go, and at home. This feature can extend users’ learning time and accelerate their skill development.

Share the site with your teachers and learners and re-tweet alerts from @LINCS_ED. Help amplify OCTAE’s reach by posting the following message to your own social media network:

Help #adultedu learners improve their English, get job skills & more. Point new users to free resources at the Learner Center!

The initial site is a beta version, designed to join the national conversation about digital tools for adult learners. Future phases will incorporate more tools, features, and partners. OCTAE applauds ongoing work to stimulate the marketplace and ed-tech development. Stay tuned and get involved!


From Teacher to Advocate: A Guest Blog Celebrating Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2015

Photo of Heather Ritchie

Guest Blogger Heather Ritchie, MAACCE President and Professional Development Specialist, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School

I am a teacher. I am a trainer. I am an educator. I am an administrator. These are the words I use to describe myself when someone asks what I do for a living. Then there is “I am an advocate for adult education.” This is a phrase I never used to use but find myself utilizing more often these days. It is the most powerful of the phrases and I wish all of my colleagues would add it to their titles too.

As many people have done, I did not plan a career in adult education, I evolved into it. I worked in communications and nonprofits. I loved travel and celebrated the unique nature of different cultures locally and abroad. Reading has always been one of my pleasurable pastimes; it is a gateway to information and ideas I never knew existed. Then, I learned about opportunities in my local area to teach adults. (As you’ve probably noticed, my impetus was all about me up until this point.) Then, I started teaching and year by year, my focus has been less about me and more about the students.

The students – amazing individuals who balance family with work at multiple jobs, some of whom have come from other countries and left so much behind, who have dreams of brighter futures for their children and sometimes themselves. The students changed the way I thought about our work. Instead of looking only inside the classroom to see what I could do to best support them, I began looking outside to the broader community and realized how much was hidden from the broader public – our neighbors, our politicians, and businesses.

Whenever advocacy is mentioned and volunteers are called for, the truth is, people usually turn the other way or look at their phones. Why is this? Probably, because it is an unknown experience or it is misunderstood. Most people are afraid this means talking with politicians or public speaking. Advocacy can be those things, but it is so much more! It is getting the message out to anyone and everyone, so that adult students, who are also our neighbors, can have more access to quality opportunities for education.

When I call myself an advocate these days, here is what I think of and hope that you will too:

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Barbershops Cutting Into the Achievement Gap for #ReadWhereYouAre

This article is cross-posted from the Department of Education’s Homeroom Blog.

As we celebrate, engage and Read Where You Are today, you might see tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts already on “newsfeeds” with great photos of reading in barbershops. What you might not know, and I am proud to share, is how this all began – when the Department of Education starting chatting with barbers about how we can use all of our tools, scissors included, to cut the achievement gap. At a meeting earlier this year about the importance of summer literacy, a colleague smartly mentioned a need to engage everyone in the community. Our brainstorming left us with a long list, and a colleague specifically mentioned barbershops knowing the important role they play in communities across our country, and especially in communities of color. I immediately thought of a friend, who also happens to be a barbershop owner from Washington Heights in New York City who has made it his priority to give back to his clients, their families and the larger community. As we often do in meetings, I took my “next steps” and reached out to my friend, excited about what could be in store. My work at ED is rooted in who I am, as a student, mentor, tutor, Posse Scholar and American raised in a working class neighborhood in Brooklyn. Having grown up around beauty salons and barbershops, I know what happens there and what’s been happening since has the potential to make a very big difference. In fact, my mother is a hair stylist and has worked in the field for decades.

On June 29, thanks to some truly remarkable small-business barbershop owners, staff from the Department listened and learned with a group of over twenty barbershop owners from around the country who happened to be in Washington, D.C. for an industry event, a hair battle. Our conversation was about how to understand how barbershops can do more to help the students and kids we all care about, how barbers as individuals could be empowered, and how barbers can make a difference.

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White House Celebrates CTE Students and Teachers

First Lady Michelle Obama gave the keynote address at “Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education,” a White House event on Tuesday, June 30.  Students, teachers, exemplary programs, and career and technical student organizations that have distinguished accomplishments were recognized at this event for awards that they have received within the past year.

Twenty six students and teachers were recognized by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and the National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSOs) as National CTE Innovators for their excellence, dedication, leadership, and innovation in career and technical education. Full biographies of these winners are available at

Five CTE programs were recognized in the Excellence in Action category, an honor awarded by the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium.  Information on these programs is available at

Additionally, sixteen national officers and representatives from the career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) were also recognized for their service. These organizations serve a combined membership of over two million students across the country.

The First Lady noted that the Department of Education will soon be launching a series of prize competitions, joining forces with America’s solvers to help students compete in our global economy. Through these innovation challenges, ED seeks to spur the development of new technology, products and resources that will prepare students for the high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand occupations of tomorrow. For more information about these challenges and to sign up to receive further updates as they are announced, please visit

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Olivia Wood is a summer intern for the College and Career Transitions branch of the Division of Academic and Technical Education in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.

White House Hosts “Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education”

As part of her Reach Higher initiative, the First Lady will deliver remarks at the Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education (CTE) event, hosted by the White House in partnership with the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education. In her remarks, Mrs.Obama will celebrate students and educators for their work connecting the classroom to real-life career opportunities.

Students and educators selected through a competitive process run by the Association for Career and Technical Education, as well as schools selected by the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education, will attend this event in South Court Auditorium. Together, these individuals and programs represent a wide range of accomplishment in the field that is preparing students for success in school and beyond. Over the course of the day, the White House will showcase student projects and lead discussions with education leaders, business and industry representatives, and policy makers on how the best CTE programs can be replicated and expanded.

This event follows the release of an Executive Order expanding the United States Presidential Scholars program to establish a new category of outstanding scholars in CTE. In case you missed it, additional information about the E.O. can be found here.

This event is open press and will be livestreamed at


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Olivia Wood is a summer intern for the College and Career Transitions branch of the Division of Academic and Technical Education in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.

Family & Consumer Sciences delegates visit DC

Gayla Randel standing at podium

NASAFACS President, Gayla Randel addresses the audience

The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education recently held a briefing to learn how Family and Consumer Sciences Education is contributing to the Administration’s education priorities.

State leaders of the National Association of State Administrators of Family and Consumer Sciences (NASAFACS) addressed the importance of career-ready foundation for all youth and adults, and explained how its programs, standards, and instructional strategies are preparing students to succeed in their careers and communities. In particular, the audience heard how Family and Consumer Sciences Education improves college and career readiness and workforce success by addressing foundational STEM literacy, 21st century employability skills development, and the technical skills in career clusters with high labor demand.

a group of NASAFACS members stand in front of the flags of the Department of Education and U.S. Flags

A NASAFACS delegation attended the briefing during its visit to Washington D.C. for its annual meeting.

Gayla Randel, the 2014-15 President of NASAFACS, explained how Family and Consumer Sciences provides foundational life skill development, employability skills education, and workforce education and training through more than 27,000 middle and secondary level teachers who reach approximately 3.5 million students annually. These students represent a range of diverse communities in large and small educational systems and from all geographic locations in the United States.

Materials from the briefing can be downloaded below:
Download PDF – 2 Pages STEM and FCS
Download PDF – 2 pages FCS and Workforce Connections Issue Brief
Download PDF – 45 pages NASAFACS Presentation

Chinese CTE Delegation Visits OCTAE

Grace Solares, Dr. Jack Xiaogang Zhang, & Ms. Yan Shi

Grace Solares, exchanges greetings and information with Dr. Jack Xiaogang Zhang, & Ms. Yan Shi from the Chinese Delegation

I recently had an opportunity to meet with a delegation of CTE providers, and university and employer representatives from China. Upon returning to China from the Association for Career and Technical Education’s (ACTE) CareerTech VISION 2014 Conference in Nashville, Tenn., the delegation stopped by our Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) to learn more about the career and technical education system in the United States. OCTAE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Mitsui, and OCTAE staff, Grace Solares and Margaret Romer, provided the delegates with an overview of our CTE system, as well as, the Department of Education’s priorities for CTE reform.

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Robin Utz serves as the chief for the College and Career Transitions branch in the Division of Academic and Technical Education (DATE) for Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the US Department of Education.
College and Career Transitions Branch Chief, OCTAE
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USCIS Listening Sessions on New Americans Announced

The President’s Task Force on New Americans and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invite you to participate in three listening sessions to discuss federal strategies to strengthen the economic, linguistic, and civic integration of new Americans. Three sessions are planned:

  • Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 from 1 to 2 p.m. (Eastern)
  • Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, from 1 to 2 p.m. (Eastern)
  • Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, from 1 to 2 p.m. (Eastern)

On Nov. 21, 2014, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum establishing a White House Task Force on New Americans, an interagency effort to develop a coordinated federal strategy to better integrate new Americans into communities. Read more about the Task Force and the call for feedback.

During these listening sessions, Task Force members, including OCTAE leaders, and USCIS officials will provide an overview of the Task Force on New Americans and seek your feedback on best practices or strategies for successfully integrating immigrants and refugees into local communities.

To register for these sessions, please follow the steps below:

  • Visit the USCIS registration page to confirm your participation
    • Click here to register for the January 29th session focusing on receiving communities
    • Click here to register for the February 3rd session focusing on economic and linguistic integration
    • Click here to register for the February 5th session focusing on civic integration
  • Enter your email address and select “Submit”
  • Select “Subscriber Preferences”
  • Select the “Event Registration” tab
  • Provide your full name and organization
  • Complete the questions and select “Submit”

Once USCIS processes your registration, you will receive a confirmation email with additional details. If you have any questions about the registration process, or if you do not receive a confirmation email within two business days, please email

Note to the media: This engagement is not for press purposes. Please contact the USCIS Press Office at (202) 272-1200 for any media inquiries. If you have questions regarding the engagement or other stakeholder matters, please email

In Case You Missed It: CTE and STEM Conference on Marginalized Girls

Cross-posted from the White House Blog | The recorded webcast may be viewed here.

President Obama believes in the innate curiosity of every child, and our responsibility to ensure that every young woman and girl has the opportunity to achieve her dreams, regardless of what zip code she is born in.

This week, as part of the President’s commitment to equal opportunity for all students, the White House Domestic Policy Council and the Council on Women and Girls, the Department of Education, and the Georgetown University Law Center on Poverty and Inequality highlighted programs that focus on developing the talent of girls of color and low-income girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and career technical education (CTE) careers. We heard from the educators, innovators, researchers, scientists, and marginalized girls themselves who are dedicated to increasing the participation of low-income girls and girls of color in post-secondary education and in-demand careers within high-growth industry sectors.  

According to a recent National Science Foundation study, today, more women graduate from college and participate in graduate programs than men. As the White House Council on Women and Girls noted in our November 2014 report, Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity, since 2009, both fourth- and eighth-grade math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the largest nationwide assessment, have improved for all girls of color, and since 2009 the high school dropout rate has fallen by 16 percent for black girls and 30 percent for Hispanic girls.

From 2009 to 2012, the graduation rate at four-year colleges and universities increased by 0.9 percentage points for black women, 3.1 percentage points for Hispanic women, 2.7 percentage points for American Indian/Alaska Native women, and 2.1 percentage points for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women. Despite this progress, barriers still exist for girls and women in STEM and CTE fields. In 2010, just 10.6 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 7.9 percent of master’s degrees, and 3.9 percent of doctorate degrees in science and engineering were awarded to women of color, and fewer than 1 in 10 employed engineers were women of color.

Many of these girls and young women continue to demonstrate an interest in STEM/CTE education, and we know that they bring new ideas, perspectives, and a passion for innovation and discovery. However, a dearth of resources effectively focused on marginalized girls, inaccurate stereotypes and implicit bias, and a lack of research informing evidence-based programs have combined to discourage many from pursuing and advancing in STEM and CTE careers. We simply cannot afford to allow these unfair and unnecessary barriers to prevent our nation from benefitting from the talents of the best and brightest Americans without regard to race, ethnicity, income, or gender.

We are proud to announce that the Administration is working with non-profit partners to expand access to STEM and CTE for marginalized girls, including low-income and girls of color:

  • Expanding Access to STEM and CTE Programs that Work: With funding support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Girls Collaborative Project, in coordination with non-profits like COMPUGIRLS and educators from around the country, will create a new STEM/CTE portal that will centralize resources on expanding marginalized girls’ access to STEM and CTE, including curriculum, research, and promising practices. The new project will also implement educator professional development at the local level.
  • Guidance to Ensure All Students Have Access to CTE and Non-Traditional Careers: The Department of Education is developing policy guidance designed to ensure that all students have equal access to CTE programs. The guidance to high schools, community colleges, and other CTE providers will underscore that gender bias has no place in American schools and that Title IX prohibits schools from relying on sex stereotypes in directing students towards certain fields. The guidance will also help state education agencies as they think about ways to improve women’s representation in non-traditional fields as part of their Perkins Act obligations.
  • Building Public-Private Partnerships and Strong Mentoring Programs: The Departments of Energy and Education will announce the expansion of a mentoring program that connects federal government employees who are STEM professionals with teachers and middle school students to share their passion, including some of the most marginalized students. This program will expand to additional cities around the country, with a focus on students living in public housing.

To learn more about what the Administration is doing now to expand opportunity for all with respect to STEM and CTE careers, please visit the Office of Science and Technology Policy and previous White House blogs on the topic.

Valerie Jarrett is Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

USDA SNAP Employment and Training Webinar

Join the upcoming webinar: SNAP Employment and Training Pilots – An Information Session on the Request for Applications.

Date & Time: Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 3:30-4:30 pm EDT

Overview: On August 25, 2014, USDA announced the availability of $200 million for up to 10 employment and training (E&T) pilot projects within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and a robust evaluation.  These pilots give USDA and State partners an opportunity to build on existing SNAP E&T programs and test new strategies to determine the most effective ways to help SNAP recipients gain and retain employment that leads to self-sufficiency.

SNAP helps eligible low-income families put food on the table and supports critical and needed employment skills and job training so that people can become self-sufficient through gainful employment.  The pilot projects offer a chance to connect even more SNAP participants with better work opportunities.

FNS invites State SNAP agencies interested in the E&T pilots to participate in a webinar on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm (EDT).  The purpose of this webinar is to help unpack the priorities, requirements, and expectations outlined in the E&T Pilot Request for Applications (RFA).

To register for this webinar, please visit the following link:

More information about the E&T pilots and a link to the RFA can be found on the E&T Pilot web page: