Community based organizations as initiators of partnerships with community colleges

This study focused on community based organizations leading community colleges in workforce development partnerships to train unemployed and underemployed adults. These collaborations operate where community based organizations deliver case management and job search skills, while community colleges offer specific training. In order to examine these partnerships, I conducted an in-depth qualitative study with program initiators and implementers, as well as employer partners, from three different partnerships. The study examined the elements that contribute to initiation, maintenance, and sustainability of the partnerships. The findings demonstrate that community based organizations are well placed to deliver case management and specific job search skills, but need a training partner to implement specific skills: the community college. Due to frequent personnel turnover, community colleges can sometimes be an unreliable partner. Drawing from the narratives of participants gathered from in-depth interviews, I illustrate that partnerships work best when leaders come together around a recognized need; many inter-personal factors such as open communication and trust contribute to maintenance; and sustainability is based on strong leadership and funding. The goal of this study was to inform partnerships focused on workforce development to support employment of low-income, underserved populations. Recommendations and implications include evidence-based practices in building individual participant as well as partnership capacity.