Steps to Success
Steps to Success Closes June 30
After more than 20 years of serving clients in Multnomah County, the Oregon State Department of Human Services (DHS) closed the Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) Steps to Success (STS) program, effective June 30.
According to DHS, the decision to end MHCC’s long-standing and successful program is due to a state budget shortfall. STS is100 percent grant-funded from DHS’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) federal and state funds.
The STS initiative is part of the state’s JOBS (Job Opportunities and Basic Skills) program that provides comprehensive educational, social and employment services to enable job seekers to gain the skills and qualifications necessary to obtain permanent jobs or to transition into a new career.
Over the past 23 years, MHCC’s STS program responded to the District’s broad-based economy, developing industry-specific training in a variety of manufacturing, construction, transportation, communications, utilities, trade, retail trade, finance, government and education enterprises. Staff worked closely with employers and community-based organizations to close the gap between workforce skills and the competencies required by employers to meet the demands of an increasingly sophisticated work environment.
Under the leadership of Carol Foster, director of STS, and with the active support of then-MHCC President John J. “Ski” Sygielski, MHCC launched a grassroots campaign to keep the program alive. Despite these efforts, DHS was unable to restore funding to STS.
This is a sad situation, not only for the residents who relied on STS for jobs assistance, but also for the very talented and caring staff who helped them. Unfortunately, 45 MHCC employees whose positions are funded by the DHS contract, received layoff notices, effective June 30.
At a farewell gathering at STS on Tuesday, June 28, Foster told her staff, college leadership, business and community partners and clients, “We have truly made a difference in the lives of thousands of Multnomah County families — some of our most vulnerable citizens — over the past two decades. We are proud of our success. We are proud for serving as the vanguard for MHCC in fulfilling our College’s mission to our communities. We leave with our heads held high and bid you farewell.”