Mid Valley PROSPER (MVP) serves as a connection point for education and prosperity initiatives in the mid-Willamette valley region of Oregon. By coordinating information across projects and sectors, MVP helps ensure that partners are effectively engaged and children and families benefit from the efforts. Mid-Valley PROSPER (formerly known as Willamette Promise RAC) catalyzes conversations and connections among K-12, higher education, and industry to break down barriers to living wage jobs in the region. Through a collaborative process and by integrating a cross-sector perspective, MVP has narrowed our focus to three industries in which to center our work for 2015-17 biennium: early childhood education, manufacturing, and health care.
Spearheading the work of the MVP will be the Mid-Valley PROSPER Oversight Team (MVPOT). The effort will involve using regional data, asset and needs mapping of the workforce in each of the identified focus sectors, and observations made by key stakeholders to identify barriers that are preventing potential employees from gaining employment and meeting our regional workforce demands. The MVPOT will pool local resources – including people, information, and talents – gathering people around the table that represent the diverse interests of the region. The convenings of the MVPOT will leverage partnerships and develop a clear pathway, with movable and stackable degrees and training to be paired with regional resources to build and support a sustainable workforce.
We have reached our goals when we see a clear path, barrier-free, to our three industries and when people in our communities obtain viable and persistent work as measured by regional employment data and information collected from employers and employees. Our work will continue to expand as we build capacity and include other sectors and barriers that need attention within our region. In order to make sure the pathways are available to all, MVP will utilize funds to support an advertising campaign. This will include a web resource through our local workforce agency, information distribution through our Oversight Team members and their respective agencies, career and college advising through MVP, and shared resources with the Oregon Employment Department.
Mid-Valley PROSPER has identified long-term goals to help best position students and adults in the region for success. Currently, the region has a number of unfilled high-wage and high-demand jobs in manufacturing and healthcare. The goal of MVP is to ensure the development of a local, skilled population and to increase the employment rate by not only creating clear training and educational pathways, but also by making sure K-12 education has clear goals to support the workforce demand as well. Our job is to identify barriers for our communities and to break them down within our systems to provide for a competent and well-trained workforce in the future.
MVP has helped to foster the Willamette Promise, which operates under the motto of “Student centered. Future focused.” Students interested in earning college credit can enroll in proficiency-based dual credit courses through the Willamette Promise (WP). The WP has established 20+ Accelerated Credit opportunities offered in over 50 high schools across the state. Additionally, the WP hosts a professional learning community (PLC) of high school counselors and college advisors, along with support from Oregon GEAR UP. The intent of the PLC is to provide advising services to students at participating schools around college admission, career training, and entry pathways, as well as other advising services as needed. WP was able to host Build-Oregon Career Expos to over 10,000 students statewide. The Expos allow students to explore college and career readiness activities, including practice interviews, hands on activities with employers and college representatives, and interactive lessons before and after the expos. WP works closely with South Metro Salem STEM Hub and GEAR UP in their efforts to promote regional career and college readiness. In 2014, WP began working with school districts to offer courses specifically geared to prepare high school students to successfully enter and thrive in the workforce. The local communities are supportive of the development of a pathway that encourages students to seek out training and/or education that will allow them to build a hometown workforce aimed at increasing regional economic prosperity. Through MVP’s work with the Willamette Promise, the collaborative will have direct access to students to share information on barrier free pathways to high-wage, high-demand jobs in the region, better preparing the future regional workforce.
Education: Willamette Education Service District and its 21 component school districts; Chemeketa Community College; Western Oregon University;
Community: South Metro Salem STEM Hub, GEAR UP, Marion County Early Learning Hub, Yamhill County Early Learning Hub,
Business and Industry: INCite, Inc.; Associated General Contractors, Columbia Division; and hundreds of local businesses through Career Expos