Posted by Chris Anderson on Mar 09, 2020
Pictured (L to R):  Joni Blackman and Justin Hanft
Our very own, Justin Hanft is a Chautauqua County native, and has been serving as the Executive Director for the Chautauqua County Education Coalition for the past three years.
Prior to taking on the Executive Director position with the Chautauqua County Education Coalition, Justin spent four years as Industrial Services Manager for the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier. 
While working at MAST, Justin served as Coordinator of the Dream It Do It program working with school districts to eliminate the misperceptions around manufacturing careers. 
Justin is also a board member on the JCC Foundation and is past President Chautauqua Leadership Network.  
The Chautauqua County Education Coalition is a dynamic public-private partnership made up of 125 stakeholders representing 70 organizations and is the catalyst for collaboration around four components within Chautauqua County’s educational system:  Early Childhood, Middle School to High School Career Pathways, Current Employer Needs and Community Collaboration.
The Chautauqua County Education Coalition’s mission is to align resources and build capabilities to meet the evolving workforce requirements of Chautauqua County. Together, CCEC and the greater community identifies resources to fill gaps in youth services and help solve complex social problems related to education. A current focus is matching local curricula to the needs of local employers.
The Chautauqua County Education Coalition is more of a movement so to speak.  Justin’s role is to bring together a unique cross-section of industries and provide connections to the local educational system.  The Chautauqua County Education Coalition aligns resources and build capabilities in Chautauqua County’s learning system.  
Some examples of what the Coalition has accomplished:
  • The Chautauqua County Education Coalition secured $238,000 to support a program called Parents as Teachers that is run by the Jamestown Community Learning Council.  The goal of the Coalition is to support the learning system from cradle to career.  The Parents as Teachers program falls into that bucket.  This grant was made possible by assistance from the Cummins Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr Foundation.  Parents as Teachers is not only operating in Jamestown school districts but is also operating at 8 different districts in Chautauqua County thanks to this grant.
  • Designation by the Lumina Foundation.  Justin will attend a conference in April to network and get a seat at the table, so to speak.  The conference is a gathering of other community areas from the country.  The goal of the Lumina Foundation is to achieve 60% degree attainment for all Americans. Justin hopes to be able to receive funding at some point from the Lumina Foundation. It is important to be involved in the process.
  • The Chautauqua County Education Coalition also acts as a facilitation and management organization for the National Grid STEM grant.  The Coalition acted as a pass through and provided 30 micro-grants to area organizations (Prendergast Library, JCC, etc.).  
  • The Chautauqua County Education Coalition supports the Dream It Do It efforts of working with school districts to eliminate the misperceptions around manufacturing careers.  This includes the annual STEM Wars & Manufacturing Career Fair.  This event has grown to involve 18 school districts, and between 900-1,000 students each year. 
  • The Chautauqua County Education Coalition also supports the development of the Workforce Readiness Scholarship, which Dr. Tim Piazza spoke about last week.  
Justin also talked about the local P-Tech (Pathyways in Technology) program as well.  This program, based in Dunkirk, offers an educational culture focused on non-traditional, personalized and project-based learning.  Students in this program will works a NYS Regents Diploma as well as earing a two-year science degree in Welding or Mechanical Technology, from Jamestown Community College.  
Justin stressed that collective impact is the main idea behind The Chautauqua County Education Coalition.  This program is a movement that is trying to break down silos in the community.  We all need to work together to move our community forward!
5 conditions should be met in order to move the community forward:
  • All on the same common agenda
  • Follow the same type of measurements
  • Identify mutual activities that are beneficial to all
  • Continuous communication
  • Participate in United Way allocation committee
For more information on The Chautauqua County Education Coalition, please visit them on the web at