GCC Wins National Green Genome Award

Recognition for outstanding college sustainability and workforce efforts

 When community college leaders from across the United States look for an example of an innovative, effective, and sustainable college, they’ll look to Greenfield Community College. As part of an expanding national effort to support environmentally sustainable practices, programs, and job training at the nation’s almost 1,200 community colleges, Greenfield Community College is one of five exemplary community colleges to be presented with an American Association of Community College (AACC) Green Genome Award today.

The Green Genome Awards, created by AACC’s Sustainability Education and Economic Development Center (SEED), are evaluated in four key areas critical to holistic green college transformation: community engagement, governance, program design and delivery, and strategic partnerships. Greenfield Community College is recognized as the Overall winner, demonstrating excellence in all four key areas. That excellence can be seen in GCC’s academic programs in Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency and Farm and Food Systems, on-campus photovoltaic solar panels and permaculture garden, campus-wide composting and recycling, collaborations with many community partners, and campus leadership that considers sustainability in its decision making. Greenfield Community College will be awarded $7,500 plus a set of state-of-the-art Bahco brand Snap-on tools and horticulture equipment. The awards are sponsored by Snap-on.

Greenfield Community College President Bob Pura said, ““As the primary organizing body of community colleges of the United States, AACC knows and understands community colleges across the country. We therefore are most honored and lifted by this recognition. I am so very proud of all of the people in the College and the Community who made it possible for AACC to recognize GCC with this award. It is great to get acknowledged for demonstrating best practices by an organization that is so well informed. What this award also does is encourage us to work harder and aspire to even higher standards.”

Other winners of this prestigious award include:

  • Gateway Technical College, Wisconsin (Strategic Partnerships)
  • Lane Community College, Oregon (Governance)
  • McHenry County College, Illinois (Community Engagement)
  • Moraine Valley Community College, Illinois (Program Design & Delivery)

“AACC is thrilled to recognize colleges like Greenfield Community College that have not only prepared a skilled workforce, but have also become change agents in regional efforts to develop a green and sustainable economy,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC President and CEO. “Through the SEED Center, AACC is providing community colleges an important roadmap to connect and integrate campus sustainability practices and clean economy-related education and workforce development.”

“This national award will not only equip GCC with state-of-the-art equipment but also with additional capital to boost their already successful program,” said U.S. Representative Jim McGovern. “This award is further proof that GCC is a national leader in the field of sustainable and renewable energy education and workforce development.”

GCC Faculty/Staff Respond to the Green Genome Award

Teresa Jones, Program Coordinator for GCC’s Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency (RE/EE) Program

As a community college, GCC has been able to serve as facilitator to bring together the remarkable talent and passion from our region and grow sustainable practices from the ground up. Our programs and activities reflect hundreds of hands, minds and hearts. Our work brings together big-picture ideas and the literal nuts-and-bolts of building energy systems, planting food, working side-by-side with different people toward common goals. We know that it’s a perpetual work in progress and we thank our students, especially, for helping us to ‘walk the talk.’ I’m thrilled with this acknowledgement of our collective achievement.

Peter Rosnick, Adjunct Math Faculty and Director of SAGE – Sustainable Agriculture and Green Energy Education Center

The SAGE (Sustainable Agriculture and Green Energy) Education Center at Greenfield Community College – “where science, workforce development, and civic responsibility meet” – bridges the work of the Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency and Farm and Food Systems Programs along with related offerings of GCC’s Department of Workforce Development. Through the work of the SAGE Center, GCC is addressing three of the most compelling issues of our time – climate change, job security, and social justice. We are teaching students how to protect the environment and are helping them get good green jobs. In addition to honoring the work the college does in sustainability, The Green Genome Award very significantly and specifically honors the ninety community businesses and organizations with whom the RE/EE and FFS programs partner.  This award recognizes the entire community.

Montserrat Archbald, Green Campus Committee Chair

So much of the work we do on a daily basis is small and incremental—it’s great to be recognized as part of a much larger movement at GCC and colleges across the country.

Abrah Dresdale, Faculty/Coordinator of Farm and Food Systems program

I believe in working at a college that takes a whole systems approach to sustainability, where an institution chooses to leverage its position to demonstrate best practices. At GCC, we have a new bike share program, local food procurement for the dining commons, a green speaker series, and many other examples of sustainability permeating the campus. The Farm and Food Systems program is a liberal arts degree option focused on sustainable agriculture, permaculture, and building resilient regional food systems. We have worked with over 40 community partners, including the Franklin County Jail, where we offer an organic gardening class for incarcerated men; now there is a vegetable garden and fruit trees at the jail! Through a grant from the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts we’re collaborating with grant partners NELCWIT, Montague Catholic Social Ministries, and Seeds of Solidarity to support women in transition to increase their food security and economic independence. The Farm and Food Systems program at GCC teaches about and engages with the interface of sustainability and social justice issues in our community and beyond.

Brian Adams, Professor of Environmental Science

Photovoltaics behind the East Building; a passive solar greenhouse; a permaculture garden; a LEED-certified building renovation; academic programs in Farm and Food Systems and Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency; active and committed faculty and staff. These are some of the reasons why GCC has received this prestigious sustainability award. We have accomplished so much and we have so much more to accomplish.

Christine Copeland, Internship Developer, DOL Transformations Grant and RE/EE Program Assistant

What greater testament is there to the value of our programs than the work of our graduates? They are installing energy systems, diagnosing houses for energy efficiency, creating community gardens – living with quiet passion and conviction as business owners, coop members, employees, interns, volunteers and good citizens. Our graduates express their appreciation for GCC by sitting on advisory boards and inviting students to intern with them. The work builds on itself. They are facing the pressing demands of our future.

About SEED

AACC’s Sustainability Education & Economic Development Initiative, SEED, advances sustainability and green workforce development practices at community colleges by sharing innovative models and free resources to increase the capacity of college leaders, faculty, and staff to build the green economy. The SEED Initiative was created in partnership with ecoAmerica and has received support from the Kresge, Flora Family, and Surdna Foundations and corporate partners Snap-on and Pearson Higher Education. www.theSEEDcenter.org

About the American Association of Community Colleges

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s more than 1,100 community, junior, and technical colleges and their more than 13 million students. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AACC has been in operation since 1920. For more information about AACC and community colleges see www.aacc.nche.edu

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GED / High School Equivalency Graduation to be held October 8

On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, more than 30 GED (General Educational Development) and HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) graduates and their families will participate in a commencement ceremony at Greenfield Community College Main Campus from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Greenfield Community College has one of the highest High School Equivalency test passing rates of the twenty-five Testing Centers in the Commonwealth of  Massachusetts.   In 2013, 199 students earned their GED at GCC and in 2014, 48 students have earned their High School Equivalency Credential by taking the new HiSET test.  The HiSET test replaced the GED test for High School Equivalency Credentials in April 2014.  Graduates range in age from 16 – 70. On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, more than 30 GED (General Educational Development) and HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) graduates and their families will participate in a commencement ceremony at Greenfield Community College Main Campus from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The event is made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Literacy Project, the Franklin Hampshire Career Center, the Family Learning Center and GCC. Officials participating will be GCC President Robert L. Pura and State Chief GED / HSE Examiner, Tom Mechem. Speakers will include Donna DuSell, Youth Career Pathways Coordinator, Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board; Kari Lake, former GED and GCC graduate; Donna Tanner current GED graduate and Shoshone Sadoski current HiSET graduate.  There will also be presentations of the Tricia Donovan Memorial Scholarships. The event is made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Literacy Project, the Franklin Hampshire Career Center, the Family Learning Center and GCC. Please join us to hear and celebrate the amazing success stories. # # #

GCC’s Popular Senior Symposia Expands Locations and Program Format

Twelve years ago, former Greenfield Community College administrator Risky Case buttonholed GCC Dean for Community Education Bob Barba at a College event and said, “I’d like to talk with you about the College doing more for seniors.” Within a few weeks, Barba met with Case and about twenty-five others that Case helped bring together. That October 2002 meeting led to the then-named Senior Education and Enrichment Program at GCC, now called Senior Symposia, which opened with a slate of six titles in January 2003. A collaborative effort between Greenfield Community College’s Office of Community Education and area senior citizens, the Senior Symposia provide a way for area seniors to continue their education in a format that best suits their needs, interests, and resources. Clearly popular given a recent jump in attendance, the Senior Symposia present intellectually stimulating topics in single or multi-session formats, held during daytime hours in convenient, accessible locations. Since 2003, 7,606 seniors have attended 200 Symposia. Currently, about 400-500 people per semester attend Symposia on topics ranging from history and music to current events, travel, and art. Participants in this fall’s Symposia will learn about baseball, post-cold war nuclear risk, Chinese laborers in Berkshire County, Emily Dickinson, department stores, and more. Topics and presenters are chosen and developed by the Senior Symposia Planning Board and Risky Case still serves on that Board.

While most Symposia are held at GCC’s Downtown Campus on Main Street, some are held in alternative locations, including Stinchfield Lecture Hall and the Sloan Theater at GCC’s Main Campus and the Arts Block and The Pushkin in downtown Greenfield. The café-style seating of the Arts Block was the venue for last year’s jazz improvisation Symposium featuring pianist Jerry Noble and clarinetist Bob Sparkman. Noble, staff accompanist in the music department at Smith College and classical music writer for the Springfield Republican, and Sparkman play traditional jazz of the 1930s and 40s. For the Symposium, they mixed performance with conversation with the audience about how improvisation works.

Noble said, “The Symposium was a new format for us, an opportunity to give a peek into the process of what we do with improvisation. The back and forth of interaction with the Symposium participants was terrific. They were a super literate audience that brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the event. They brought up ideas we’d never considered, we were improvising with the audience. We enjoyed it so much that we’ve since presented a similar program to several music clubs.”

Barba said, “The Planning Board is committed to exploring new kinds of programming, a range of formats, and different venues to reach new audiences. The October 8 program on archguitar featuring Peter Blanchette will be a performance/conversation combination and the October 21 program includes a film created for the Emily Dickinson museum and presentations by the film’s scriptwriter and producers. The Arts Block is just one example of alternative venues the Senior Symposia program has used and is exploring. Although recent developments with that building make the location of the October 8 Peter Blanchette program uncertain at press time, the symposium will go forward either at the Arts Block or at the GCC Downtown Center.”

Risky Case continues to encourage the Planning Board to find programming that meets needs not yet being met. She said, “You never know what’s going to happen until you try. Since the beginning of the Symposia, we’ve made sure that the people who we’re trying to serve are involved in the decision making about the programs.”

John and Betts Bednarski of Greenfield are long-time Symposia participants who served on the Planning Board for a number of years. John said, “The Symposia are a tremendous opportunity for older people to extend their knowledge of interests they already have and to learn about new topics. Along with learning, Betts and I have developed very good friends among Symposia participants, including those who share our interests and some we would never have met otherwise. The Senior Symposia is a wonderful extension of GCC’s efforts in our community. They help everyone have a chance to keep on learning later in life.”

For information about this year’s Senior Symposia, visit http://www.gcc.mass.edu/creditfree/senior-symposia/ or call (413) 775-1605.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

MA Community Colleges awarded $20 million U.S. Dept. of Labor Grant

Highest Funded Grant in the Country

Boston, MA, September 29, 2014 –A consortia proposal submitted collectively by the 15 community colleges in Massachusetts led by Massasoit Community College has been selected by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for the fourth and final round of federal funding from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant (TAACCCT). The community colleges are advancing a comprehensive approach to addressing the training and educational needs of workers and employers statewide with a focus on articulated pathways to careers in high-growth STEM sectors (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math; as well as advanced manufacturing and healthcare). The $20 million grant is the highest funded of the 66 awarded in the country by U.S. DOL. The project, entitled Guided Pathways to Success in STEM (GPSTEM), will use the national Complete College America Guided Pathways to Success model to assist eligible students in obtaining degrees and certificates in STEM fields. The model focuses on reducing the time to completion of certificates and degree programs, resulting in more students entering employment in the Commonwealth and/or transferring into baccalaureate programs to add to their credentials.

During the three-year grant period, 24 STEM degree options and 58 certificate programs will be newly created or significantly enhanced in partnership with business/industry, the Commonwealth’s workforce system, the state universities, and UMass. The project will also build capacity on the highly successful Career & College Navigator model the Massachusetts Community Colleges designed and implemented during the Round I TAACCCT Grant Award in 2011. An important part of the Round IV initiative will focus on creating collaborative pipelines for students to seamlessly transfer to baccalaureate programs to meet industry demand in certain STEM industry areas. “Creating key pipeline collaborations in the STEM fields in conjunction with the state universities and UMass will serve as a new model for creating comprehensive higher education and industry partnerships in the Commonwealth,” said Bill Hart, executive officer of the Massachusetts Community Colleges Council of Presidents.

The focus is primarily on helping TAA-eligible un- and under-employed workers and veterans enter STEM programs and obtain high-skill, high-waged jobs. However, the funding to implement Complete College America’s GPS model will assist community colleges in infusing additional comprehensive student supports throughout the 15 campuses that will benefit all student populations. I am of course delighted by the announcement.  The Advanced Manufacturing and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields are key and significant to this grant.  I am particularly pleased this grant will provide the educational opportunities for good people to get good jobs with good wages.  That fits well with our strategic direction and priorities. The fact Massachusetts received the largest single allocation says a lot about the work of the community colleges of the Commonwealth and how we are perceived” said President Robert Pura of Greenfield Community College.

Additionally, $5 million of the $20 million will be for an additional statewide collaborative to work with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the state’s workforce system (state career centers and Workforce Investment Boards) to create a pilot around technology-enabled solutions to integrate systems at the community colleges and the state’s career centers to aggregate data and inform decisions on serving Trade-Impacted workers, unemployed and underemployed clients, and students. This additional statewide collaborative will be referred to as the Data Bus and is a project on top of the main proposal of the development of Guided Pathways in STEM. Cape Cod Community College also received a solitary grant of $2,471,478 to focus on training students in aviation maintenance and avionics, bringing the total funding for Massachusetts to more than $22,400,000.

Inside Art Exhibit Bridges Jail & Community

While artwork in the Inside Art exhibit at Artspace covers a range of subjects and media, the varied pieces all deliver one message. Created by men incarcerated at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office (the Greenfield Jail), everything in the exhibit says loud and clear: “We’re here, and we’re members of the community.”

How did art by incarcerated men find its way to an exhibit at Artspace? The first public event sponsored by the Elm Street Think Tank, Inside Art’s origins are rooted in painting and writing classes offered to men at the jail and in a collaboration between Greenfield Community College and the Sheriff’s Office. Established in December 2013, the Elm Street Think Tank is a group of community members and residents of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office who meet weekly at the jail to work on collaborative projects and promote alternatives to incarceration by raising awareness and connecting people, ideas, and resources.

The Think Tank grew out of a GCC sociology course (Crime and Punishment in the U.S.) which brings GCC students inside the jail to study alongside incarcerated students. The course and Think Tank are modeled on the international Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, based at Temple University in Philadelphia. GCC Adjunct Faculty member and Inside-Out instructor Revan Schendler has taught the course since 2011. Meeting in the jail library, a room with many paintings by jail residents displayed on its walls, Think Tank members admired the artwork and decided to create an exhibit in the community. Joan O’Beirne, GCC Associate Professor of Art and member of the Think Tank, began photographing the artwork in December: on display are prints of her photographs, since many of the paintings and drawings are no longer available, or have been painted over. The photographs and poems in the exhibit can also be viewed online at http://franklincountyinsideart.weebly.com/. Ya-Ping Douglass, a Think Tank member and former GCC student, created the website. At the exhibit’s opening on September 12, Ya-Ping solicited comments to share with the artists and poets; GCC student/Think Tank member Julianne Jones and a local videographer recorded interviews with visitors.

Joan said, “When the men inside heard about the art exhibit, they were eager to be involved. More men showed up for Judith Harper’s art class and Jim Bell’s poetry class. It inspired more people to produce more art. Many visitors to the exhibit have responded, saying how the exhibit opened their minds and broke down stereotypes they have about ‘criminals.’ The big message of this exhibit and the eagerness of the men to be involved is ‘we’re not statistics, we’ll be back in the community soon, we want people to know us.’”

Commenting on the impact of the exhibit, Revan said, “The exhibit and other community collaborations with the jail help break down the walls between those who are incarcerated and those who are not. It shows how much talent flows out of people when they are given a chance and encouragement. Access to education and to art helps develop their ability to learn and to express themselves. One goal of GCC classes in the jail is to build a jail-to-college pathway. The more education people have, the less likely they are to return to prison.”

Inside Art is open Monday through Friday from 1 to 6 p.m. through October 3 at Artspace, 15 Mill Street in Greenfield. For information, contact Revan Schendler at Schendlerr@gcc.mass.edu.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

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