Prospects look grim for the nation’s 15 million unemployed, according to a recent jobs report from the Labor Department. Yet lawmakers in Washington, gripped by deficit fears, haven’t found the votes for even a modest stimulus package.

In the May/June issue of the Washington Monthly, Jamie Merisotis and Stan Jones offered a plan to help the unemployed without spending a lot of money: help them earn one and two-year college credentials, fast. Most of the new jobs in this recovery require skills most unemployed Americans don’t have. Yet the schools where they might get training are not up to the task. Community colleges are inexpensive but not designed to deliver credentials quickly. For-profit colleges provide quick degrees but are expensive and often deliver subpar training.

What the unemployed need are colleges that combine the low-cost and public mission of community colleges with the job-focused plans of the best for-profits. There is a model public college system already up and running that does precisely that in Tennessee, with stunningly successful results. That model could be spread nationwide in a matter of months, not years, with an investment of federal money that is already in the budget.

Join the New America Foundation and the Washington Monthly to discuss this new idea.

The event will be held at the New America Foundation’s D.C. offices at 1899 L St NW, Suite 400, and will begin at 9 a.m. (ET) this Friday, June 18.

The Monthly‘s editor in chief, Paul Glastris, will moderate the discussion, and the panel will include Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation for Education; Stan Jones, president of Complete College America; Carol Puryear, the director of the Tennessee Technology Center; and James Kvaal, special assistant to President Obama on the White House National Economic Council, and the official recently choosen to be the next deputy undersecretary of education.

Register to attend the event here.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer