$2 billion dollars to improve access to educational resources. That’s right. $2 billion.

Today the Department of Labor announced a solicitation for grant applications under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAA CCCT), which will invest $2 billion “to provide community colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs.” All of the materials created with program funds must be released under a CC-BY license. This is $2 billion dollars from the United States government that is in part explicitly to fund the production of open educational resources. Hal Plotkin alluded that something big was coming in his talk at Open Ed in November. This is a really big something.

A mini link round-up:

The full program announcement

The Department of Labor press release

The grants will provide postsecondary institutions with an opportunity to develop and make innovative use of a variety of evidence-based learning materials, including cutting-edge shared courses and open educational resources. These resources would be available online for free, greatly expanding learning opportunities for students and workers. In addition, these learning tools will help schools and students tailor education so each worker can have a better opportunity for success in the classroom and job market.

Mr. Hal Plotkin himself on the grants and their import

The materials produced as a result of these grants will carry the Creative Commons BY license, which also permits their free derivative use for commercial purposes. That means companies, schools, entrepreneurs, and others will be free to bundle, adapt, or customize the learning materials to create new offerings, products, and services. Schools will be able to affordably offer courses in subject areas and at levels of expertise previously beyond their reach.

Creative Commons, whose licenses make the whole thing possible

Congratulations to The Department of Labor, The Department of Education, and others involved in crafting this important, innovative program. Creative Commons is committed to leveraging this opportunity to create a multiplier effect for public dollars to be used on open, reuseable quality content.

Tech President, “Obama puts dollars behind open sourcing education”

[T]he Obama administration is putting a considerable amount of money — $500 million a year for four years, for a total of $2 billion, or what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described on a press call as “may be the largest investment into two-year institutions since the GI Bill” — behind the principle [of OER].

Chronicle of Higher Ed, “2-Year colleges get details of $2 billion grant program”

The announcement of the program’s details has been long anticipated by community-college officials. President Obama first proposed a major grant program for community colleges in 2009, shortly after taking office. He originally proposed a $12-billion plan to improve community colleges, called the American Graduation Initiative, but that plan collapsed during negotiations over legislation to overhaul student aid and the nation’s health-care system.

People are going to be talking about this for awhile.