South Bend Launching 'Lifelong Learning' Initiative

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South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg's office is helping to coordinate the effort. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg's office is helping to coordinate the effort.
SOUTH BEND -

A $500,000 grant from Google.org and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) is being used to launch an initiative aimed at turning the city of South Bend into "The City of Lifelong Learning." The project, led by the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University in California, will give residents the ability to keep up with the skills needed in the workforce.

The South Bend Lifelong Learning System is being developed in conjunction with the office of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The city says the project aims to serve all 100,000 residents in South Bend with an emphasis on helping the most economically disadvantaged.

The system will feature digital and physical aspects that will take a fragmented set of learning resources and put them together to give residents a clear idea of what skills are currently in demand from area businesses and where those skills are being taught. It will also give residents the opportunity to continually develop professional and technical skills and volunteer to teach others.

"This is a major, multiyear effort," said Rick Wartzman, director of the KH Moon Center for a Functioning Society, a part of the Drucker Institute that is spearheading the project. "We have a long way to go before the system will actually be up and running, and we are mindful that we ourselves have a lot to learn as we move forward. But we are also confident that our overarching vision—to create a system that allows all people to more easily acquire new knowledge and skills throughout their lives—is essential to having a flourishing community in the 21st century."

The city says the South Bend Lifelong Learning System will be developed in three phases with the first phase taking place through the end of this year. It will see the Drucker Institute and its partners gathering information from key stakeholders such as businesses, labor groups, nonprofits and educational institutions, and evaluating the local and national learning resources available for the project.

The project will then move into a design phase before finally being launched throughout the city.

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