I-BEST (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training)

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help address educational disparities. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • Community and technical college–based program advancing demand-driven occupational training in fields such as automotive, electrical, office skills, nursing, precision machining, and welding for students needing assistance acquiring basic skills
  • Elements include career pathways, team teaching that blends occupational and basic skills instruction, advising, and financial support
Target Population
Students enrolled in post-secondary education
Cost per Participant

Evidence and impacts


iBEST is not yet in any of the major clearinghouses, but has demonstrated positive results in an independent, high-quality evaluation conducted by MEF Associates

  • Higher course enrollment and completion rates
  • Increase in credits and credentials earned

Best practices in implementation

  • Allow for a substantial runway from program planning to launch – which could range from 3-12 months.
  • Partner with students, local development/workforce councils, and employers to identify high-demand sectors offering competitive wages.
  • To create the professional development curriculum, engage frequently with local adult education administrators, community colleges, employers, and third-party credentialing programs.
  • Pair basic skills instructors with technical/vocational instructions, allowing them to jointly design and teach classes.
  • Provide faculty with training on the I-BEST model and team teaching. Note: Introductory resources to the I-BEST model are included below.
  • Assign a clear departmental owner of the program - someone who is eager to take on the program’s responsibility, and can lead cross-organizational collaboration efforts.
  • Recruit champions of the program outside of its host department – especially senior leaders and staff within professional-technical departments.