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Contact: Linda Wallace, 215-751-8082, liswallace@ccp.edu
Annette John-Hall, 215-751-8021, anhall@ccp.edu


PHILADELPHIA, PA, May 17 - Understanding the critical need to extend opportunity to Philadelphia youth who are disconnected from the workforce, Starbucks and Community College of Philadelphia have partnered to host a job fair, in hopes of attracting potential employees for Starbucks’ Philadelphia-area stores.

The recruiting event will be held Wednesday, June 1st from noon to 3:30 PM in The Great Hall of the Winnet Student Life Building on the College’s main campus, located on 17th Street between Spring Garden and Callowhill streets.

“Opportunity youth stand to gain the most when we work together with the shared purpose of offering them a chance for a brighter future,” said Dr. David E. Thomas, dean of the College’s Division of Access and Community Engagement. “We hope this event marks the beginning of a long-standing partnership between the College and Starbucks."

Paul Sykes, Starbucks District Manager, said his company’s mission aligns with that of the College. “Starbucks chose to partner with Community College of Philadelphia because of its unwavering commitment in helping young people realize their greatest potential,” he said. “We’d like to continue our partnership in helping youth across all spectrums realize their fullest potential and possible careers with Starbucks.”

Through the job fair, Starbucks seeks to harness the creativity and productivity of young people who are disconnected from the workforce. In Philadelphia, approximately 25 percent of youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are either out of school or out of work, according to a recent study by Drexel University’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy. Nationally, only 17.7 percent of the same age group were disconnected.

Institutions and organizations such as the College, School District of Philadelphia, and Starbucks describe this population as “Opportunity Youth,” and have joined a growing national movement around addressing their educational and employment needs. Through the 100,000 Opportunities initiative - a coalition of the largest employer-led businesses in the nation - Starbucks has pledged to provide apprenticeships, internships, and part-time and full-time jobs to 100,000 young people by 2018.

Starbucks recruiters will be on hand to welcome applicants and conduct interviews for qualified candidates. The company seeks hourly workers for barista and shift supervisor positions. The job fair is open to all Philadelphia residents, with a special emphasis on the opportunity youth serviced through programs housed under the School District of Philadelphia’s Opportunity Network.



Community College of Philadelphia is the largest public institution of higher education in Philadelphia and the sixth largest in Pennsylvania. The College enrolls approximately 34,000 students annually and offers day, evening, and weekend classes, as well as classes online. Visit the College at www.ccp.edu. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook.

Advanced Manufacturing Information Request Form

Start on Your Path to a Career in Advanced Manufacturing

Advanced Manufacturing invents and creates the products that we use daily. American companies are reinvesting in manufacturing jobs, resulting in 60,000 jobs added back into the U.S. economy in 2014 with more jobs projected to return in the future. Despite this industry growth, The National Association of Manufacturers reports that a significant business challenge is finding and retaining qualified workers.

For some job seekers, a one-page resume won’t do the trick. For those who might have a harder time connecting with potential employers because of, say, a nontraditional education path or time spent in prison, a digital cloud-based tool called ePortfolio paints a fuller picture.

Developed by Digital On-Ramps, a Philadelphia-based coalition formed to improve workforce services in the city, ePortfolio lets students and hard-to-serve job seekers provide hiring managers with a holistic overview of their accomplishments and skill sets. (Think LinkedIn.) Using a computer or smartphone, users can upload copies of training certifications, letters of recommendation and even examples of important projects they’ve completed during training programs.

“We recognize that as a network of [career service providers] we weren’t working the best at serving the whole person. There was no way to track our clients’ progress as they journeyed throughout different agencies,” says Joanne Ferroni, director of university and community partnerships at Drexel University. The college is the operating home of Digital On-Ramps, but many partners are involved, including the city of Philadelphia, the library and the Community College of Philadelphia.

Deesha Dyer’s extraordinary journey took her from Community College of Philadelphia to the career of her dreams in the White House.

Last week, Dyer made a triumphant return to Philadelphia, where she delivered the College’s commencement address as special assistant to the president and social secretary of the White House. All of this, from a young woman who at one time thought she could get by without a degree and dropped out of college.

Ophthalmic Technician Program

To learn more about exciting career opportunities as an ophthalmic technician, plan to attend our upcoming information session: 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 2 p.m.
The Eye Institute of Salus University
1200 W. Godfrey Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19141

Ophthalmic Technician Program Agreement Signing Ceremony

Join Community College of Philadelphia and Salus University at our Ophthalmic Technician Program Agreement Signing Ceremony.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 1 p.m.
The Eye Institute of Salus University
1200 W. Godfrey Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19141

Luis Torrado - Community College of Philadelphia

Community College of Philadelphia has served as the springboard for every professional leap Luis Torrado of Northeast Philly has made over the past 30 years.

Community College of Philadelphia enabled Torrado, a 1987 graduate, to land his first professional job drafting at one of the region’s largest electrical companies. Fast forward 27 years. Torrado, now owner of Philadelphia-based Torrado Construction, credits the College, specifically its Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, for equipping him and other graduates with the tangible and intangible tools needed to grow. And grow he has.

Torrado’s Port Richmond-based general construction firm saw revenues skyrocket from $4 million in 2012 to a $13.7 million in fiscal 2015, an increase of over 200 percent over three years, and is projected to add 50 more employees over the next five years.

That’s phenomenal growth, by any standard.

“The program gave me the confidence I needed to move forward,” said Torrado, a 2014 graduate of the Goldman Sachs program for up-and coming entrepreneurs. “I learned I was much smarter than I thought I was. I became a leader.”

Since it came to the region, 10,000 Small Businesses-Greater Philadelphia has graduated 251 area business owners, putting them on a path to sustained growth. A new study recently released by Babson College found that small business owners who complete the program in this region report creating new jobs just six months after graduating, and 61 percent report increase in revenues.

The program provides entrepreneurs with best practices and strategies to help create jobs , plan for future growth , and, in Torrado’s case, gain more confidence.

Not that Torrado was ever a shrinking violet. Even back when he was a student, he never shrunk away from achievement.

Nobody in Torrado’s close-knit family had any ties in construction. Torrado had no reputation, no references, no proven track record, which are all must-haves for success in a business that relies on referrals. But that never stopped him. He possessed a relentless work ethic, instilled by his parents, as well as a belief in himself, even in the early days when he ran his business out of his parents’ home with only two employees in the field.

“I always had a feeling I would do something,” he said.

As a college student, he also took advantage of every opportunity. In 1986, when Community College of Philadelphia made an internship available at Forest Electric Corp., one of the premiere electrical companies in Philadelphia, Torrado jumped on it.

He wound up working for Forest Electric five years and learned all operational aspects of the sprawling business. By 1996, Torrado was ready to incorporate his own firm.

Business grew slowly at first. Torrado Construction initially renovated residential properties, then graduated to commercial renovations, ink removal and painting services. The firm was getting the business, but had no cohesive blueprint for growth .

By the time he enrolled in the 10,000 Small Businesses program, “I was at a place where I was driving blind,” he says. “I was just bidding work without really focusing on where we were and where we wanted to be.”

Since completing the program, Torrado has learned, with the assistance from Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, how to put a line of financing in place, increased his knowledge of forecasts and budgets and has put more strident deadlines in place for completion of projects.

The College and the contractor have grown older and stronger together. “It felt good to contribute to a college I attended,” Torrado said.

Not to mention a College that has reinvented itself to meet the needs of successful graduates.

How do you balance providing a solid liberal arts education while playing a pivotal role in workforce development? That’s a key question for Community College of Philadelphia, which saw its 50th graduating class receive their diplomas this spring. While this year’s tally of graduates won’t be finalized until October, last year’s graduates numbered 2,103—the most in the college’s history.

The College first welcomed students in 1965 in a former Center City department store before acquiring a permanent home at the former Philadelphia Mint at 17th and Spring Garden. Each year, the 34,000-student college enrolls the most incoming freshmen in the city. Nearly 28,000 are enrolled in credit classes, and nearly 15,000 are full-time equivalent students.

As CCP looks to the future, changes are afoot. The college has a nationally recognized Reentry Support Project that has helped over 500 students with criminal records meet academic goals. It provides a growing number of study abroad opportunities, and classroom designs are currently being overhauled in a push to make the college’s facilities world class. To attract new foreign students, CCP hopes to build student housing and retail space on a parking lot they own at 15th and Hamilton Streets. It would be the college’s first residence for students.

In April 2015, the college began offering free tuition to select freshmen. The program — which the college estimated 440 students qualifying for the first year — helps those who are highly motivated to bridge the gap between what grants cover and what students pay out of pocket. (At CCP, tuition and fees run about $5,550 a year. Students usually owe an additional $500 after financial aid.) The offer comes with several restrictions: testing at the college level, maintaining a 2.5 GPA, participating in extracurricular activities, and enrolling full-time. Nationwide, however, 60% of community college students attend part-time. Clearly these requirements are ones not every student can meet—especially those at the most risk.

The CCP student body is 62% female and has a median age of 25, so childcare is an issue for many. So is college readiness in a city plagued by dysfunctional high schools. I’ve taught at CCP since 1991, and I’ve seen how young people, like my student Rachel, can have their eyes opened wide through a college trip to Japan. More often, however, I hear how a student misses a critical exam because she couldn’t afford bus fare or because her babysitter didn’t show.  

Open-enrollment institutions face perpetual dilemmas: Do they focus on remediation to fix the skill gap between high school and college? Do they focus resources on improving graduation and transfer rates? Or do they funnel students into training programs to land jobs as quickly as possible? 

This past year, CCP created a new position: Vice President for Workforce and Economic Innovation. It’s hired more advisers and is increasing its workforce training. Certainly these efforts are vital to the city's economic development and to students’ personal success. Yet professors like me worry that the open door may be narrowing; we also hope that the teaching of lifelong critical thinking skills won’t get overlooked in the push to create trained workers.

At an April 2016 visit to CCP’s campus, Vice President Joe Biden called community colleges “America’s best-kept secret.” And it’s true: 7.7 million students attend over 1,100 community colleges across the country—that’s 42% of all undergraduates. Biden was in Philly to stoke interest in the America’s Promise Program. It’s a combined partnership between the Department of Labor, potential employers, and community colleges. The program would channel $100 million toward tuition-free education for unemployed and low-income workers looking to enter highly-skilled fields. The program is not without its critics, though. America’s Promise is funded by awarding visas to skilled foreign nationals, and there’s a fear that these workers might take potential jobs away from the very students the program aims to help, despite a stipulation that qualified Americans will get first dibs.

From nurses to dental hygienists, from IT workers to English graduates, the people I encounter tell me time and again how the start they received at CCP was more personalized and often more rigorous than classes they took elsewhere. The college’s impact on the city is indelible. Yet a recent study by the Pew Foundation stated that graduation rates could be even better. As Community College of Philadelphia looks ahead to maximize outcomes, it will need help overcoming such obstacles as a lack of funding, a city with one of the highest poverty rates in the country, and a struggling public school system. CCP is making strides, but it can’t do it alone. America’s Promise needs to begin even earlier.

ON WEDNESDAY night, Nicole Reid and Siaoni Jackson, both 20, experienced a rite of passage they thought they'd given up when they dropped out of high school.

Earlier in the day, they got their hair done, their makeup just right, and then slipped into striking, matching champagne-colored dresses they had fretted over for weeks before ... the Big Night.

Prom night.

So what if they weren't graduating from the high school they once attended. So what if they had a lot more on their plates as single mothers than typical high school graduates. So what if they were pulling a straight-up Cinderella fairy tale on this weeknight, on borrowed time while relatives cared for their children.

Tonight was prom - and for a few blissful hours, they were going to savor every moment of it.

"I am ready to dance," Jackson declared, eyeing the empty dance floor at the Ethical Society.

Here's the thing about second chances: Wonderfully redemptive as they are, sometimes you miss out on milestones that come with doing things the first time around.

For instance, you drop out of high school but eventually get your GED, you might get a graduation ceremony, but chances are there's no prom.

That's how it was at the JEVS Human Services E3 program that helps 16- to 21-year-olds get their GEDs.

But this year, students decided a prom was in order, and the program set them up with free dresses and suits, for anyone who wanted them, free hair styling and makeup the day of the prom, and boutonnieres and corsages.

And why not? There should be a celebration of all these students have accomplished, all the obstacles they have overcome.

Consider some of the stats from the program: Almost 80 percent of E3 members have reading and math levels below ninth-grade level, 58 percent have been involved in the court system, 36 percent are pregnant or are already parents, and more than half of participants experience some level of homelessness at some point during their enrollment.

Reid, who lives in North Philly, and Jackson, who lives in West Philly, were both once homeless. Reid was living in a shelter with her children when she started the program. Jackson ended up in one when her house caught on fire one winter night last year.

When things got tough, they turned to each other, even if it meant middle-of-the-night pep talks.

"There were times I was on the phone with her at 3 in the morning, saying, 'Yo, stop crying. We gotta go to school tomorrow, you gotta get up in a couple of hours,' " Jackson said.

Reid told Jackson about the program. And ever since, they've leaned on one another, two young mothers who want more for themselves and their children.

"I had to do this for my kids," said Reid. "I couldn't keep going in the same circle I was going in. I don't want them to be like me. I want them to be better than me, to get a good education, stay on track and stay on focus. I want them to get further than me."

Both women are now at Community College of Philadelphia, with big dreams of careers in psychiatry and social work.

But Wednesday, those plans took a backseat to a rare night off. Many of the participants went together. At one table were Reid and Jackson, who adorably call themselves Peanut Butter and Jelly. At another table, there were friends Lance Dunn and Dayanara Laboy, who stuck out the program together and now were celebrating together.

What better way to celebrate than with the people you shared such a life-changing experience with?

Confession: I never went to prom. I never really got what all the fuss was about. But that may be because I went to three different high schools, and the one guy who threw me a pity ask was vetoed by my father.

But standing there, among the 60 or so students giddily complimenting each other on their pretty dresses and sharp suits, I could see the appeal - especially for students who worked so hard to get there.

Deesha Dyer Community College of PhiladelphiaDeesha Dyer Community College of Philadelphia

Deesha Dyer’s extraordinary journey took her from Community College of Philadelphia to the career of her dreams in the White House.

Last week, Dyer made a triumphant return to Philadelphia, where she delivered the College’s commencement address as special assistant to the president and social secretary of the White House.

All of this, from a young woman who at one time thought she could get by without a degree and dropped out of college.

Her story of resilience and dogged perseverance resonated deeply with the College’s candidates for graduation, many of whom overcame many obstacles to earn their degrees. After the ceremony, one graduate tweeted, “Deesha Dyer, you were truly the best commencement speaker I’ve ever heard. So glad CCP invited you.”

Dyer told students she tried many occupations during her time away from school – working as a secretary, a hip hop journalist and serving as a volunteer.

But while mentoring young girls in Philadelphia, Dyer couldn’t help feeling “like a hypocrite, stressing to them that they needed to go to college, no matter what,” she said, when she had no degree herself.

“I would be very honest and tell them that because of their gender, race, and economic class, things may not be easy for them,” Dyer said. “I told them this because things weren’t easy for me. I didn't want the stigma of not having an education to hang over their heads. I didn't want them to be told they weren't qualified for promotions or a job because of their lack of a degree. I didn't want them to feel ‘less than.’”

She decided to re-enroll in college. It wasn’t easy because she had to prepare to take college-level courses and was placed in pre-college math.

“Some days you wanted to give up. Some days turned in to a series of days, and graduating college seemed like an impossible task. Well, you defeated those days. You rose above them and you are here. I am here, we are here!” she told more than 1, 000 candidates for graduation in attendance, which included candidates who had earned Associate in Arts, Associate in Applied Science and Associate in Science degrees, as well as those who completed certificate programs.

In 2008, Dyer found herself swept up in the hope and change movement personified by a dashing U.S. Senator named Barack Obama, who was running for president. She applied for a White internship, skeptical that a 29-year-old community college student would have a shot. To her surprise, she got it.

Back home in Philly after her internship, she received the email that changed her life. Would she be interested in coming to work at the White House? “Of course I was!” Dyer said.

She recalled being fearful that senior officials wouldn’t hire her when they learned she didn’t have a degree. To her surprise, she was offered the job with the caveat that she would finish school. Dyer spent

five years completing her degree in Women’s Studies. For two of those years, she took online classes while working for the White House.

Although she wears many titles proudly, Dyer is exceedingly proud of her distinction as a Community College of Philadelphia alumna. Happy to be home and falling into the local jargon, the West Philadelphia native described herself as “just another ‘jawn’ from Philly”(“jawn,” i.e. person, place or thing) who cruised past societal limits and kept going.

She urged graduates to “stand proud in who you are as a Community College of Philadelphia graduate. Know that you will meet people who will make you feel as if you have not earned your degree — as if your degree is worth less than others; but you have earned it. It is something that no one can take away from you.”