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Sen. Sherrod Brown secures $1.275 million in federal funds for project

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Columbus College of Art & Design has long held a key position as an economic engine in central Ohio and well beyond. The college’s vital role in creative workforce development will be supported and enhanced by $1.275 million in new federal funding for CCAD, secured by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and intended to enhance the college’s career education offerings.

Part of a bipartisan funding package signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 18, 2022, the federal dollars will enable CCAD to expand its already robust career education offerings with new, state-of-the-art facilities. The combined support from the State of Ohio’s biennial capital budget and federal funding means that no student tuition dollars will be used in the project.

This funding serves as an endorsement of CCAD  as a major contributor to regional workforce development, and an organization that is poised to help Ohio’s citizens prepare for the jobs of the future. This support from Sen. Brown is proof positive that the college’s commitment to career education is making an impact. 

The renovated facility will be located at the heart of the downtown campus at Broad Street and Cleveland Avenue, and will serve as the “front door” to the college campus. The building will house CCAD’s Continuing & Professional Studies, Career Services, Master of Professional Studies, and Alumni Relations departments. Additionally, it will house CCAD’s renowned Corporate & Community Partners program, which has facilitated partnered projects between CCAD students and 71 corporations and community organizations since fall 2019. Colocated with Admissions in CCAD’s Design Studios on Broad building, this new space showcases the available pathways to successful creative careers for prospective college students as well.

The renovations, which will take place over the next three months, will enable the college to launch an array of new professional courses, workshops, bootcamps, and graduate degree programs to build and grow professional and life skills that directly respond to the upskilling and retraining needs of the Central Ohio workforce. The improved space will equip CCAD to broaden its community education offerings and expand its career-advancing programs, which include such offerings as an interactive user experience (UX) workshop dedicated to research and insights, design thinking courses, and a disruptive collaboration workshop—which have helped mid-level professionals from such companies as DSW and Google think like designers to better understand their customers.

CCAD’s emphasis on career education, design thinking, and upskilling programs has been a vision of President Melanie Corn, EdD, who joined the college in 2016. Growing this programming remains a priority in CCAD’s strategic plan. The college has offered more than 20 corporate training and upskilling workshops for professionals since 2019, with course offerings informed by community and alumni surveys. These surveys have provided yet another point of evidence underscoring that the type of professional growth programming CCAD offers is in high demand in Columbus and around the country.

CCAD has a strong start in creative career education and plans to build on this foundation. For example, 100% of respondents to a recent UX webinar said that they’d recommend CCAD’s professional studies programming to their colleagues. In addition, workshop participants like John Gillam have seen success with CCAD’s offerings. Gillam, founder of The Community Studio, a nonprofit that teaches art to seniors, was among those enrolled in the course “Crafting the Perfect Pitch: Working with the Media” in fall 2021. Using the skills he gained in the course, Gillam successfully pitched his work to the media, landing a television news segment that provided his up-and-coming organization with needed public exposure.  

Arts and culture industries contribute more than $20 billion to Ohio’s economy annually, and creative skills are increasingly important across all sectors of the economy. Sen. Brown recognized the value that CCAD’s artists and designers bring to the table.

“We unleash more American inspiration when everyone is able to participate and we nurture all Ohio talent,” Brown said. “Columbus College of Art & Design is one of Ohio’s great institutions of higher education. We can’t have thriving, vibrant cities without the arts, and this award will help CCAD advance community education and expand career opportunities for Ohioans.”

“Without public funding, CCAD would not be able to offer students and professionals the skills they need to succeed as artists and designers,” said Dr. Corn. “These funds serve as a building block as we continue to offer career education programs to prepare Ohio’s workforce for today and tomorrow. And, it’s gratifying that Sen. Brown recognizes the importance of CCAD’s contribution to Ohio’s economy.”