I recently sat down with policy leaders from across the country at a meeting hosted by Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C. As you can imagine, the economy and workforce were top of mind for all of us.

Employers statewide are having varying levels of difficulty finding skilled workers. While there’s no one tool that can alleviate this nationwide challenge, there is a toolbox.

Take the Texas Reskilling and Upskilling through Education (TRUE) initiative, for example. This tool was passed by the Texas Legislature in 2021 and focuses on bringing industry and education together to launch or upgrade industry-aligned, high-demand career programs that can be completed in six months or less. Under TRUE, Texas has already directed $26 million to skills training at 46 colleges and multi-college collaboratives across the state, with $15 million more recently announced. TRUE also aligns with Tex

Austin, TX - The Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) is under new leadership. Effective June 1, 2022, Dr. Martha Ellis will serve as the newInterim President & Chief Executive Officer for the association. Jacob Fraire, previous acting president, has accepted a new role as Director of Policy for the University of Texas at El Paso, Institute for Hispanic Student Success.

Dr. Ellis holds more than 35 years of experience in community colleges in Texas and New Mexico including two college presidencies, provost, chief information officer, undergraduate dean, and faculty member. For the past several years she has worked closely with the association as a Texas Pathways Coach and Senior Pathways Lead forwarding the mission of Texas Success Center to increase student success through Texas Pathways.

“I have deep respect for the mission of the association and the evolutionary work it

Austin, TX – The Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) is pleased to welcome two new directors to the association's leadership team.

Jacob Cottingham will serve as the new Senior Director of Government Relations for TACC. Mr. Cottingham will help develop and implement legislative policy goals and strategies for the association and monitor legislation and regulatory changes relevant to Texas community colleges. In addition, as a key member of TACC's advocacy team, Jacob will build critical relationships between TACC member colleges and policymakers.

"We are very excited to welcome Jacob to the advocacy team at TACC. He brings a strong background in legislative relations, and I am confident his expertise will help our message resonate on Capitol grounds," says Dr. William Serrata, TACC Board Chair and President at El Paso Community College.

Before joining TACC, Jacob

In February 2020, Comptroller Glenn Hegar rebooted his Good for Texas Tour by highlighting the impact of Texas community colleges. The comptroller estimated that, with 700,000 students, community colleges contributed about $9.8 billion annually to the Texas economy and that the higher pay for individuals with some college or an associate degree raised annual wages by more than $27 billion.

The global pandemic has upended learning on college campuses across our state, challenging students’ pursuit of post-secondary degrees in profound ways. Preliminary data shows community college enrollment may have dropped by about 85,000 students (up to 12%) since fall 2019. Although this dip will adversely affect generations of incoming students, community colleges must continue to rise to the challenge of meeting the needs of our students and employers in communities across Texas.

Where are these

It bothers me when people think of community college as a second-tier option or backup plan. Whether straight out of high school or after a long break from education, community college is a place where hundreds of thousands of Texans go to work toward their dreams. As a new Commission on Community College Finance meets at the Texas Capitol to take a fresh look at how our state funds community colleges, I encourage appointed members to listen to the stories and suggestions of students like me so that others can thrive as I have.

Graduating from high school, I was already living alone trying to make my way through life. I got into a four-year college and began a major in behavioral neuroscience. I took 16 hours of classes each week on top of my full-time job. Even stretching myself so thin, I loved what I was doing. I worked hard and knew that every action I took was in service of my