Issue Brief: TAACCCT / Common Share IP

Last week, the US Department of Labor issued a Notice of Solicitation for Grant Applications (SGA) for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants program. This tongue-twisting grant will provide up to $500 million annually ($2 billion over fiscal years 2011-2014) for community colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education to expand their ability to deliver education and career training programs designed for workers who are eligible for training under the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers program. Congress created the TAA program to provide benefits to workers who become unemployed due to the impact of international trade.

The goals of the new grant are to increase the amount of degrees, certificates, and other industry-recognized credentials, and to better prepare the targeted population for high-wage, high-skilled employment. There are four priorities. The online and technology enabled priority is also is the preferred delivery mechanism for all of the grant priorities. (It is also the most critical -- more on that below):

  1. Accelerate progress for low skilled and other workers;
  2. Improve retention and cheaper rates to reduce time to completion;
  3. Build programs that meet industry needs;
  4. Strengthen online and technology enabled learning.

Eligible institutions are institutions of higher education that offer programs that can be completed in not more than two years ‰-- mostly community colleges, in short. These institutions include public, proprietary, or other nonprofit educational institutions, as defined in section 102 of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Institutions of higher education may also submit a proposal on behalf of a consortium of eligible institutions.

Each institution may receive from $2.5 million to $5 million. No less than $2.5 million will support eligible institutions in each state, so long as there are fundable applications in the state. The period of performance for these grants will be 36 months.

The intriguing aspects of this program are the intellectual property rights. All successful applicants will be required to license all work created with the grant under a Creative Commons 3.0 attribution license. This license allows subsequent users to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the copyrighted work in a manner specified by the grantee. In addition, the Federal government reserves a paid-up, nonexclusive and irrevocable license to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use, and to authorize others to use for Federal purposes the copyright in all products developed under the grant and any rights of copyright purchased under the award.

This open intellectual property approach is critical. For taxpayers this means that the grant (made up of tax dollars) will cover the price of creating and the price of using/accessing the grants product. There will be no need to pay for the creation and use of the final product. For the private education sector, this could chill the benefits of public - private partnerships, at least initially, until bright minds figure out the market benefit of such a setup. The answer is not yet clear.


‰"TAA-Community College and Career Training Grant Program SGA Pre-Recorded Webinar,‰" January 21, 2011,

Creative Commons:

Trade Adjustment and Assistance Program:

For more information contact david.deschryver[at]