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College & Career Training in Alaska

The Alaska Postsecondary Access and Completion Network (AlaskaCAN) is a 501(c)3 non-profit member organization united around the goal of 65% postsecondary attainment by the year 2025. Formation of AlaskaCAN was initially made possible through a federal grant to the state. AlaskaCAN aims to foster a culture of postsecondary participation and success in Alaska. Its goal is to increase the percentage of Alaskans who have a postsecondary education, particularly credentials relevant to a robust Alaskan economy.

AlaskaCAN defines postsecondary education as any education beyond a high school diploma that results in an industry-recognized certification, certificate, or degree. Technical and non-degree credentials are considered to be an essential component of that goal, consistent with Alaska’s high-need, high-quality careers. AlaskaCAN believes that by increasing the number of Alaskans with credentials, we will build the competitive workforce Alaska’s employers need, encourage economic development for Alaska, and strengthen the earnings potential and employability of more Alaskans, bettering lives for Alaska’s families and communities.

The formal purpose of AlaskaCAN as stated in the Bylaws is to “facilitate partnerships, communication, and advocacy to positively impact Alaska by increasing the share of its citizens earning high skills, high value education and workforce credentials, particularly those relevant to Alaska's economic and societal well­being by:

(a)          Reducing duplication of effort and creating alignment among service providers
(b)          Supporting professional development
(c)           Strengthening public messaging
(d)          Conducting and/or disseminating relevant research”

The professional development component builds on the premise that improved knowledge and resources among professionals who are supporting student transitions into and throughout completion of postsecondary education will improve student outcomes. AlaskaCAN wants to continue ongoing collaboration and information sharing between these professionals whenever possible, but it is also looking at adding new opportunities to the mix.

In March 2015, the Alaska Postsecondary Access and Completion Network (AlaskaCAN) hosted its first-ever “65 by 2025 – AlaskaCAN” Conference for postsecondary access and completion service providers.  Each year since, AlaskaCAN has hosted annual professional development conferences with themes including: Learn – Connect – Develop; Alaska Can – Alaska Will; and Educational Equity. Most recently, the seventh annual AlaskaCAN Conference was the first conference hosted virtually due to a COVID-19 pandemic. The theme of that Conference was “Reaching Our Goal: 65 by 2025”. The theme centered on two attainment factors: Credentials of Value and Building K-16 Educational Pathways. These factors were addressed through two critically important lenses: Equity & Access and Distance-Delivered Programming.

All seven annual conferences offered many individuals the opportunity to learn first-hand about best practices and successful programs happening in Alaska, and to engage with the professionals delivering them.

In May 2021, AlaskaCAN added a new opportunity to the professional development mix by hosting its first-ever Quarterly Convening. The premise behind Quarterly Convenings is for AlaskaCAN to engage its members around singled-out, high value subjects to achieve the goal of 65 by 2025. The theme of the first convening was “Equity & Access: Sharing Dual Credit Resources”. Currently AlaskaCAN’s Professional Development Committee is planning the second convening scheduled for late September 2021, with the theme of “Removing Barriers to Postsecondary Education”.

For more information about AlaskaCAN and its initiatives, to become a member, or to help with the planning and organization of the next quarterly convening, please reach out to Dominika Szpotanska, the organization’s Administrative Liaison.

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