Workforce Development Program of Holyoke and Springfield Technical Community Colleges Wins the First Deval Patrick Award

February 6, 2015

$50,000 Prize Recognizes Excellence in Establishing Partnerships with Employers

February 5, Boston – Training and Workforce Options (TWO), a collaboration between Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College, has won the inaugural Deval Patrick Award for Community Colleges, the Boston Foundation announced this morning at an event attended by the former governor and members of the higher education and business sectors.
The Foundation created the $50,000 prize last year to recognize community colleges that do an outstanding job of partnering with employers to build effective career pathways for their students. The TWO program was selected by a volunteer committee of representatives from the higher education, workforce and business sectors.

TWO is a workforce development initiative that provides non-credit skills training for workers, connects job seekers with Adult Basic Education and English classes and creates local pathways to intensive skills training and college-credit career tracks. It also works closely with employers to design custom training programs that address their specific needs, providing training in the workplace, at the colleges or at specialized labs and facilities both on and off campus. Western Massachusetts is home to companies in the financial services, healthcare, hospitality, information technology and manufacturing sectors.

“In 2011, we published a study called The Case for Community Colleges: Aligning Higher Education and Workforce Needs in Massachusetts, which asserted that these colleges can provide unemployed residents with the skills needed to fill open jobs and grow the Commonwealth’s regional economies,” said Foundation President and CEO Paul S. Grogan.  “TWO leverages the reforms we and Governor Patrick championed and is helping people gain the skills they need to join or advance in the workplace.”

Members of the selection committee were Sen. Michael O. Moore, D-Worcester, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education; Charles F. Desmond, Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education; Lance Hartford, Executive Director of the Mass Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd); and Dan O’Connell, Chairman of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership.

The collaboration between Holyoke and Springfield Tech was “precisely the type of result that the legislature was hoping for when we passed the community college reforms in 2012,” said Moore. “With TWO, both colleges have assumed a leadership role in driving economic success for their students.”

Desmond congratulated Presidents William F. Messner at Holyoke Community College and Ira H. Rubenzahl of Springfield Technical Community College for utilizing the structural changes and resources of the legislative reforms to benefit the employers and residents of the Pioneer Valley. “For years, proponents of public higher education have been making the case that in order to receive the appropriate resources, we must make the case for our centrality in the social and economic future of the Commonwealth,” he said. “Holyoke and Springfield Tech have done this.”

“The employer community has sought ways to partner with Massachusetts community colleges,” said O’Connell.  “What impressed me so much about the TWO program was its flexibility and agility to respond to the economic opportunities in the region, and the deep partnerships it has formed with the business community.”

Hartford, of MassBioEd, said, “People often associate the jobs created by the biotechnology sector with Ph.D. programs at private universities. But there are a wide range of middle-skill jobs for which community colleges can provide the perfect training and education, and the TWO program is a great model on how other colleges can capture these opportunities.”

The Deval Patrick Award was created in 2014 by the Boston Foundation and named in honor of the Commonwealth’s 71st governor.  In July of 2012, Governor Patrick signed a budget that included increased financial support for community colleges and a series of reforms that together created a sea change in how community colleges are funded and how they can work with employers, policymakers, students and the higher education system to prepare students for success. 


The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of some $1 billion.  In 2014, the Foundation and its donors made more than $112 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of nearly $112 million.  In celebration of its Centennial in 2015, the Boston Foundation has launched the Campaign for Boston to strengthen the Permanent Fund for Boston, the only endowment fund focused on the most pressing needs of Greater Boston.  The Foundation is proud to be a partner in philanthropy, with more than 1,000 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes.  The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, think tank and advocacy organization, commissioning research into the most critical issues of our time and helping to shape public policy designed to advance opportunity for everyone in Greater Boston.  The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), an operating unit of the Foundation, designs and implements customized philanthropic strategies for families, foundations and corporations around the globe. For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit or call 617-338-1700.