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Office of Governor Chris Gregoire
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 10, 2008
Contact:  Governor's Office, 360-902-4111

Washington awarded grant for program aimed at worker education and training

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire said today the state of Washington has received a $75,000 grant to develop a program in which workers can invest in an account, with matching employer contributions, for further education and training.

Similar in concept to a 401(k) account, a Lifelong Learning Account (LiLA) can be used any time during a worker’s lifetime to cover education and training expenses such as tuition, fees, books, supplies and equipment. The accounts, which can be transferred between employers, are intended to supplement, not replace, existing employer-supported tuition-assistance programs.

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) awarded the grant, which is funded by Lumina Foundation for Education, an Indianapolis-based organization that achieves to expand access and success in education beyond high school. Washington joins several other states and cities to test this new LiLA model, including Maine, Illinois, San Francisco, Chicago, northeast Indiana and Kansas City.

“The health and strength of our economy and our quality of life in Washington is dependent on a workforce that is educated and highly skilled,” said Gov. Gregoire. “Lifelong Learning Accounts offer a great way for employers and their employees to ensure that people who want to grow in their jobs and careers can have the financial means to do so.”

Washington’s demonstration project will target Thurston, Mason, Lewis, Pacific and Grays Harbor counties. This area was chosen because it represents the area served by the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council, which is a partner and major investor in the project, along with the Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board, PAC Mountain, the Association of Washington Business, the State Labor Council, the Higher Education Coordinating Board, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, the Department of Financial Institutions, and the Health Work Force Institute. After the demonstration project, the goal is to make the program available statewide.

“We are thrilled that Washington will be implementing a LiLA program,” said Pamela Tate, president of CAEL, a Chicago-based organization that works with employers, higher education, government and labor to create learning opportunities for working adults. “Washingtonians and workers across this nation need good jobs and long-term employability, while America’s businesses, government agencies and other employers need educated, motivated workers.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), a co-sponsor of the federal Lifelong Learning Accounts Act of 2007, said Washington’s economy depends on a highly skilled workforce to stay competitive. “By investing in new training opportunities, we can strengthen our workforce, lead the way in global innovation and make learning a lifelong process,” she said.

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Related Links:

- Lifelong Learning Accounts Web Site

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