RI Workforce Alliance

The Economic Progress Institute works with colleagues to facilitate the Alliance, a partnership among adult education and workforce training providers, business, labor, philanthropic organizations and other community leaders dedicated to ensuring that our state has a dynamic and comprehensive workforce development system that meets the needs of employers and workers, especially those with low skills.

Here are a few key facts:

  • By 2025, at least 70% of jobs in Rhode Island will require some postsecondary education (degree, apprenticeship, industry-recognized credential or license).
  • 68,000 working-age adults in Rhode Island do not have a high school credential
  • 31,250 adult Rhode islanders have limited English proficiency

The network of Adult Education programs administered by the RI Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is the infrastructure that provides foundational skills (literacy, numeracy, English language services, digital literacy) for the thousands of adults who require these services to achieve upward mobility and to provide the skilled workforce that employers seek.

2022 Policy Agenda

The Alliance is advocating for passage of bills this year that will update the law governing the Adult Education (AE) system and provide additional funds to strengthen the network of adult education providers.

The bills, sponsored by Senator James Seveney (S-2437) and Representative Terry Cortvriend (H-7637) would:

  • Update the categories of adult education services to include digital literacy, transition to college, and two best-practice models for providing foundational skills and workforce readiness for adults: “integrated education and training” and “learn and earn”.
  • Appropriate $11.2M of ARPA funds to implement one-time improvements to the AE system including enhancing capacity for digital literacy skills, expanding integrated education and training, and learn and earn models. The AE system has not received any ARPA funds through RIDE or from the General Assembly, while the K-12 system and other parts of the adult workforce development system have received significant funding.
  • Appropriate an additional $540,000 in general revenue funds to expand the on-going funding available for services provided by the AE network. Total funding has been frozen at $8.7M for at least 12 years, and the general revenue investment is only $1.9M.

Click here to view the Alliance Factsheet on the proposed legislation.

To get involved in the Campaign to pass the bills and improve adult education services, or learn more about the Workforce Alliance, send an e-mail to: akrinsky@economicprogressri.org. In the subject line, please write: Workforce Alliance.


John Paul is originally from Haiti. He had been in the US for 3 weeks when he decided to go to Tri-County Community Action Agency CAP to pursue his GED. His first day in class, he set the goal of getting a job and going to Rhode Island College. Although English was not his first language and he had just arrived in a new country, John Paul was set on his goals and was motivated to achieve them.

He sometimes struggled but worked long hours to improve his English and complete his work. Tri-County CAP staff supported him through coursework and searching online for jobs. John Paul had never filled out a job application, but with Tri-County CAP's help he was able to get a job in a nursing home and still complete his GED requirements while working.

After two years of hard work, John Paul earned his GED - and will be attending RIC in the fall to study accounting. His story of perseverance and hard work with Tri County CAP is just one example of why education #PREKthroughLIFE is vital in Rhode Island.

*Courtesy of Rhode Island Department of Education

Yuliana was working in a local restaurant when all restaurants were shut down "until further notice." Just like that, Yuliana was out of a job and on unemployment for the first time in her life.

The uncertainty of finding employment again was becoming overwhelming - but one day she went on Facebook and saw an ad for a pre-medical assisting class at Progreso Latino. That moment changed everything: " If I am good with customers, I can be good with patients" she thought. Upon completion of the pre-medical assistant class, she applied and interviewed for a spot in the Rhode Island College (RIC)/Lifespan cohort to be trained to become a Medical Assistant.

Yuliana was "so happy to have been accepted into this program and knew my life had changed for the better..." She has now finished the program and is on her way to gaining employment as a Certified Medical Assistant! #prekthroughlife

*Courtesy of Rhode Island Department of Education