Financial Planning and Sustainability

Understanding Sustainability

Sustaining the work means finding a way to fund and support your redesigned model without the need for grant funding or other short-term funds. Sustainability requires a long-term plan for funding and managing assets and resources from partners, as well as the capacity to mobilize those resources. Sustainability also includes plans to increase staff capacity so that the model can expand.

Sustainability means institutionalization within the college and across the state, as evidenced by allocation of existing resources, a commitment to using the new model when pursuing grants, and including a commitment to the advancement of low-skilled adults in college strategic plans and institutional effectiveness benchmarks.

Policy also plays a major role in sustainability - for example, state and local funding formulas and performance funding both impact college priorities.

Sustainable Funding Models

One of the core challenges to implementing and sustaining integrated pathways is figuring out a funding model that doesn't rely on grant funding or other short-term funding sources. In an era of scarce resources, colleges must find creative ways to use existing funding sources to pay for the costs associated with integrated pathways. In Accelerating Opportunity, braided funding, the weaving together of various state, federal, and private funding streams, along with funding strategies, is critical to implementing integrated career pathways.

Program Costs

Initial data from the evaluation of Accelerating Opportunity shows that for colleges, much of the cost of implementing integrated pathways comes from personnel - faculty and instructors, college coordinators, and support service staff. For students, the main cost is tuition; other costs can include books and supplies, transportation, and child care.  

Braided Funding Strategies

Braided funding refers to:

  1. the weaving together of federal, state and private funding streams; and
  2. the development of funding strategies to support integrated pathways and the students enrolled in them.

Streams – Existing, multi-year sources of funding from federal programs (WIA, TANF, Perkins, Pell, etc.), state programs (discretionary spending, financial aid), and private dollars (grants, scholarships).

StrategiesWays to create more funding opportunities independent of streams, including:

  1. Reducing costs;
  2. Raising new revenue; or
  3. Redirecting existing revenue.

Streams and Strategies are equally important. Focus on both.   

The Braided Funding Toolkit

The Braided Funding Toolkit provides Accelerating Opportunity state teams and colleges with resources to identify the major federal and state funding streams that may be available to support integrated career pathways and their students. The toolkit, built in part from the Center for Law and Social Policy’s Federal Funding for Integrated Service Delivery Toolkit, is designed to support state and college teams through the complex process of developing a comprehensive, sustainable funding model for integrated pathways.

To log on to the toolkit, go to

  • Click on “Request Access” next to “Accelerating Opportunity Braided Funding”
  • Click on the link for “Accelerating Opportunity Braided Funding”
  • Click “Log In” in the top right corner and then click on “click here to register”
  • Submit your registration request
  • Once approved, you will choose your username and password

Possible Federal Funding Sources

Administered by the U.S. Department of Labor 

  • Workforce Investment Act Title I: Adult and Dislocated Worker 
    Title I funding for adults and dislocated workers provides funding for “one-stop” career centers where employers and job seekers can access job preparation and job search activities, and job training opportunities. Nonprofit organizations, including community colleges, can access funds by entering into agreements with local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) to provide services, either as satellite one-stop centers or as part of a consortium of providers. Nonprofits may also become eligible training providers that participants can access through “Individual Training Accounts” (ITAs). For more information, visit
  • Workforce Investment Act Title I: Youth 
    Title I Youth funds serve individuals aged 14-21. Services provided include: tutoring, alternative secondary credentials, guidance counseling, and work experiences. For more information, visit
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAACCCT) 
    TAACCCT provides funds to expand and enhance career training programs that can be completed in two years or less, are appropriate for the TAA for Workers program participants, and prepare participants for employment in high-wage, high-skill occupations. TAACCCT For more information, visit
  • Registered Apprenticeship 
    Registered Apprenticeship is a training system that combines technical training with on-the-job learning experiences. For more information, visit 
  • Employment Service (Wagner-Peyser Act)
    Employment Service provides a variety of services, including job search assistance, job placement services, re- employment services for unemployment insurance recipients, and recruitment services for employers. For more information, visit
  • Discretionary Grants

Administered by the U.S. Department of Education 

  • Workforce Investment Act Title II: Adult Education and Family Literacy Act
    WIA Title II is the major source of federal funding for adult basic skills programs. WIA Title II funds instruction in reading, numeracy, GED preparation and English literacy. For more information, visit
  • Pell Grants
    The Federal Pell Grant program provides need-based aid to low-income postsecondary students. Students must have a high school credential to be eligible to receive Pell Grants. For more information, visit
  • Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins IV)
    Perkins IV supports secondary and postsecondary programs that develop the academic, career, and technical skills of students. Title I of Perkins IV funds activities for youth and adults. Title II funds the Tech Prep model focused on the articulation of secondary and postsecondary career and technical education. For more information visit,
Administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) 
    The TANF program provides low-income families with services to help them achieve self-sufficiency. Funds can be used to support career pathway development, including career pathway partnership and curricula development; education and training costs; and support services costs. For more information, visit

Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture ->

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T)The SNAP E&T program provides SNAP recipients with the opportunity to gain skills and training that will improve their employment prospects. SNAP E&T funds can be used to support education, training, and employment costs for SNAP recipients. For more information, visit