PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A newly launched online portal aims to reconnect adults to educational opportunities they may not have been able to access or were unable to complete.
The Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner (RIOPC) announced the launch of the RI Reconnect online portal on Monday.
The program targets working-age Rhode Islanders looking to expand their career options in order to fill gaps in the existing and future job market.
Tammy Vargas Warner, Assistant Commissioner of Postsecondary Education at RIOPC, says after completing an online assessment, the program matches adult students with a navigator who works with them to identify and meet goals.
“In a quickly changing job market, it is crucial that Rhode Islanders are prepared to meet the emerging needs of employers,” Vargas Warner said. “Education can lead to opportunities for employment and advancement, and we want to help connect Rhode Islanders to them.”
Omar Reyes, the Director of Adult Programs and Policies at RIOPC, says while grant money was received last year to get the program up and running, the need was heightened when the pandemic hit.
“We’ve really adjusted it to make it into something that would be efficient for the post-pandemic world, and help Rhode Islanders get back to work,” Reyes said. “We’re going to give you the facts, and we’re going to make sure that you’re making a decision that is smart and doesn’t put you into debt, or isn’t too costly for your situation.”
In 2018, Gov. Gina Raimondo set the goal for 70% of working-age Rhode Islanders to have a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025 in order to meet the needs of the changing job market.
“Balancing childcare, transportation, and other responsibilities can be the difference between finishing an educational program or not,” Raimondo said. “We know that additional education and job training will be key for workers impacted by COVID-19, and RI Reconnect is designed to help more Rhode Islanders access necessary resources to help overcome barriers for job training or college completion.”
According to RIOPC, RI Reconnect navigators are available to help for free. The program was made possible by a grant from Lumina Foundation.
According to its website, the foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis “committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all.”