UC launches Cincinnati Talent Acceleration Program to provide tech training and workplace readiness for low-income adults

Non-traditional students get job opportunities in tech and a path to higher education

The Ohio Department of Higher Education has awarded the University of Cincinnati a grant to improve the skills of 200 low-income adults to jump-start their path to career and college.

UC is only the second university in the state and the first urban institution to receive a grant for the Aspire Adult Workforce Readiness Education made possible through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. This is a comprehensive program that will provide several on-ramps for adults to obtain the skills necessary for career employment and the opportunity for a college degree.

With this initial grant and a cross-campus collaboration, UC’s Office of Professional & Continuing EducationSchool of Information TechnologyExperience-based Learning and Career Education partnered up with the Cincinnati Innovation District to carefully design the Cincinnati Talent Acceleration Program. The acceleration program provides work-integrated learning to motivated individuals to prepare them for current and future jobs and is specifically focused on low-income, unemployed and underemployed workers.


The Cincinnati Innovation District powered by the University of Cincinnati sees tremendous potential in providing accessible training to the members of this community, whether through upskilling or reskilling, to open the door to greater opportunities and economic growth for all involved.

David Adams, UC Chief Innovation Officer


The success of this program is due to the strategic partnership with the Community Action Agency of Cincinnati, Hamilton County. Its Tech Works provides multilevel IT training and critical supplemental funding.

"The collaboration between Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency and the University of Cincinnati will increase the reach of both partners and make an enormous impact on the community that we serve. The program is a great way to maximize the best of what both, CAA and UC have to offer," says Erik Thomas, career pathways manager for the agency.

"In today’s knowledge economy, it’s all about talent — people, research and educational talent," says UC's Chief Innovation Officer David Adams. "The Cincinnati Innovation District powered by the University of Cincinnati sees tremendous potential in providing accessible training to the members of this community, whether through upskilling or reskilling, to open the door to greater opportunities and economic growth for all involved."

This is an important program that strengthens our connection and commitment to having an impact on the Cincinnati community.

Lawrence Johnson CECH Dean

CTAP takes a holistic approach

Larry Hodge welcomes students on their first day

Instructor Larry Hodge teaches math to students in the Cincinnati Talent Acceleration Program during their orientation week at the UC Victory Parkway Campus.

The Cincinnati Talent Acceleration Program not only provides integrated education, workplace readiness, and tech training but also prepares students to bridge the gap between high school or its equivalent and a higher learning environment.

In addition, through support from partner organizations, the program is removing common barriers for adults who want access to education and training. Microsoft Corporation has contributed loaner laptops and financial stipends to participants. The Community Action Agency is providing transportation vouchers and  increased access to needed services and support to families, enabling students to obtain education and employment. 

"This is an important program that strengthens our connection and commitment to having an impact on the Cincinnati community," says Lawrence Johnson, dean of the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, with the School of Information Technology.

"This program focuses on adult learners that may have otherwise been overlooked for this type of opportunity. It is an example of UC’s Urban Impact initiative by creating opportunities for non-traditional students who now have a better chance to get on a path to a college degree."

Over 100 applicants and a substantial waiting list

Kristen Simms teaching CompTIA class

Kristen Simms teaching CompTIA A+ technology for the CTAP students at the 1819 Innovation Hub.

An overwhelming response made clear there is a demand for this type of program in Cincinnati.

Within 48 hours of launching the orientation registration page, UC received 105 applications and created a substantial waiting list.

The first cohort is underway with 32 students enrolled, of which 25 are women and 23 identify as Black or African American. The majority of students live within a 10-mile radius of UC’s Clifton campus.

This is the first time UC has offered a program specifically targeted to lower-income adults to help them improve their academic skills as a precursor to their technology training. With support from OPCE and Experience-based Learning and Career Education, graduates will be eligible to receive scholarships provided by the School of Information Technology to pursue careers in cloud computing or cybersecurity.

About Adult Education Programs

UC's industry-certification and non-credit adult education programs are administered through the Office of Professional and Continuing Education at the Victory Parkway Campus. CTAP students attended orientation and the first week of classes at Victory Parkway before moving to the 1819 Innovation Hub. The UC Victory Parkway Campus includes Communiversity and OLLI. Centrally located with access to public transportation and parking, it is an ideal environment to welcome non-traditional adult students to experience the University of Cincinnati.

Featured image at top: Scot Paja, assistant vice president of partner success in UC's Office of Innovation, addresses students at the 1819 Innovation Hub.