National Labor College Ends Joint Venture With For-Profit Partner

The National Labor College has ended its five-year distance-education partnership with a subsidiary of the Princeton Review after just 18 months, in an agreement that allows the nonprofit college to keep $15-million of the $25-million in capital investment that the company had promised to the joint venture.

Initially the venture was to be a joint operation of the college, which is affiliated with the A.F.L.- C.I.O. and offers programs for union members, and Penn Foster Education Group. Penn Foster is a career college, owned by the Princeton Review, that once had hopes of expanding into online education. But with the parent company losing money and its stock trading at about 15 cents per share,  its executives are no longer pursuing that course.

Backers of the joint venture, which was 51 percent controlled by the college, had once called it a model for future for-profit and nonprofit educational partnerships.

Paula Peinovich, the labor college’s president, said growth in its enrollment, which now is about 400, had been “slower than anticipated.” The economy was a factor, she said, adding that “this has been a very tough year for unions.” But she said the college had been able to use the capital from Penn Foster to develop new degree programs and build the technical capacity for an online program with 10 times as many students.

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