Seven community colleges have received Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities (WORC) program grants from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). WORC is a partnership between DOL, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority.
The grants will enable hard-hit communities in the Appalachian and Delta regions to develop local and regional workforce development solutions that align with economic development strategies. Grant recipients will work with industry and community partners to promote new, sustainable job opportunities and long-term economic vitality.
Among the grant recipients is Wallace State Community College in Alabama, which will use its $1.5 million to develop the Wallace State Diesel by Distance program and virtual reality program. The former program will allow students to complete a degree and training in diesel technology partially online and virtually with minimal time on campus. Classes will be scheduled for working adults, including weekends and evenings.
Lurleen B. Wallace Community College (LBWCC), in partnership with Reid State Technical College (RSTC), also will receive nearly $1.5 million. The funds will advance the South Alabama Workforce Advancement Project that aims to increase access to quality training and instruction. LBWCC plans to expand its industrial electronics program to the Greenville Campus. The project partners will secure apprenticeship opportunities with regional employers, provide success coaching to program participants and enhance RSTC’s industrial maintenance program by offering several new industry-recognized credentials.
Monroe County Community College secured a $105,027 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant – its second NSF grant in less than three years. The college will partner with the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Macomb Community College on a project to improve the educational experiences, outcomes and career pathways of welding technology students.
The demand for welding personnel has grown, but the number of welding graduates has declined, according to Parmeshwar (Peter) Coomar, MCCC’s dean of the applied science and engineering technology division. This project will help colleges to better understand what factors influence the experiences of welding students, what promotes their graduation and matriculation to welding career pathways, and how the expectations of students, instructors and employers align with welding industry needs.
The project also will build a research collaboration among faculty and administrators among the partnering higher education institutions.
James Sprunt Community College has received a $2,000 grant from the Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation to help feed students in need. The college will apply the funds toward its Single Stop program, which hosts a food pantry.
“No one can study and do well in class if they are hungry,” Amber Martinez, coordinator of Single Stop, said in a press release. “This grant will go a long way in helping us provide nutritious food for our students and their families.”
When the campaign launched in 2017, the original goal was to raise $17 million. It was surpassed by 17 percent, raising more than $20 million.
“Closing the financial gap for students for whom a college education is out of reach, allowing them to forever change the trajectory of their lives, was a major focus of the Transforming Lives campaign. Thanks to this success, we can expand the numbers of scholarships we can provide for students in need,” Erickson said.
Nearly 2,700 donors and 540 faculty and staff gave more than $600,000 in total to help establish 100 new scholarship funds. The campaign also raised $2.1 million for the Follett Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.