Funding roundup

Margaret Bryans, a biotechnology associate professor at Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania, wrote the application that led to a $573,347 grant from the National Science Foundation for gene and cell therapy workforce development. (Photo: MCCC)

Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) has received a $573,347 National Science Foundation grant to support the college’s efforts to develop an advanced technical workforce for the cell and gene therapy industry in the greater Philadelphia area.

Cell and gene therapies are growing as an alternative treatment for diseases such as cancer and inherited genetic disorders. MCCC explains that, unlike chemical drugs or biopharmaceuticals like insulin which are delivered into the body to combat illnesses, gene and cell therapies focus on modifying a patient’s cells or genes to help the body fight a disease on its own.

Pharmaceutical companies such as Merck and GlaxoSmithKline have expressed a need for trained staff in these areas. And with the increased approval of these types of therapies in recent years, there will be greater demand for a trained workforce, according to the college.

“There are over 1,000 cell and gene therapy products in clinical trials worldwide, with the potential for the field to grow exponentially,” said MCCC biotechnology associate professor Margaret Bryans, who wrote the grant application. “There’s going to be a shortage of skilled technicians to develop, manufacture and test these products.”

With the grant, MCCC will: develop new curriculum for an associate degree program and a new certificate in advanced therapies; facilitate other regional colleges and institutions to develop and offer their own cell and gene therapy courses and programs; and begin to engage high school students to consider a career in the field of cell and gene therapy through summer programming at the college.

Alabama

Women studying welding or diesel technology at Wallace State Community College now have more scholarship opportunities, thanks to a donation from the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham.

The college will award the scholarships on a first-come, first-serve basis to eight women who qualify for financial aid assistance. The scholarships also will cover up to $1,000 for tools, equipment and personal protective gear, as well as a tablet with wi-fi capabilities, wi-fi hotspot, learning enrichment activities for school-aged children while mothers are in classes and graduation expenses.

This is the third consecutive year the local Women’s Fund has provided the grant to Wallace State.  

Maryland

Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) has won a 2021 Ellucian Impact Award, which comes with a $25,000 grant. CCBC was honored for its “CCBC Cares” program to support students affected by the pandemic. 

The annual awards celebrate visionaries who inspire others to push the boundaries of higher education technology and innovation.

“Our students are the heart of our college, so when the pandemic hit, we made every effort to assist them and provide them with the tools they needed to manage their education,” said CCBC President Sandra Kurtinitis.

The college launched CCBC Cares at the start of the pandemic to address the academic, technological and financial needs of students. New instructional methods were put in place to make on-campus learning safe and to provide students with remote, hybrid and simulcast course formats. CCBC also distributed CARES Act funds directly to targeted groups of students affected by the pandemic, such as those who needed laptops or wi-fi to work remotely.

The initiative served nearly 10,000 students and helped to increase summer and fall enrollment, which surpassed the enrollment budget by 108% and 104%, respectively, according to CCBC.

Massachusetts

Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) has received a $400,000 state grant to create a new nursing simulation lab for registered nursing students. The college will use the Commonwealth Skills Capital Grant for needed updates such as installing a networked web-based video capture system in all three lab classrooms that will allow faculty to view and evaluate student performance.

The competitive state grants are awarded to educational institutions that demonstrate partnerships with local employers, as well as align curriculum and credentials with industry demand to maximize hiring opportunities.

Michigan

At $3 million gift commitment to Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) will support the college’s audio technology program, Great Lakes Culinary Institute and Dennos Museum Center

The donation from Diana and Richard Milock and is the largest single gift from a living donor in the college’s history. The Milocks have now contributed more than $5.3 million to the NMC Foundation as part of the current Be What’s Possible campaign, making them the lead donors in this effort.

“The generosity of Richard and Diana will support student success and the sustainability of a treasured cultural asset — in turn making so much possible for the entire community,” said NMC President Nick Nissley. “This multidisciplinary gift reflects the scope of NMC’s offerings — arts and culture, technical education and emerging programs.”

Specifically, the gift will establish an endowed fund to support the greatest needs of the Dennos Museum Center with $1.5 million. It also will create an endowed fund to support students at NMC’s Great Lakes Culinary Institute through scholarships and the greatest needs of the program with $1 million. The college will use the final $500,000 to cover the needs of the audio technology program and the Dennos Museum Center, including equipment updates and other supports.

The Milocks have supported both the Dennos Museum Center and NMC’s Great Lakes Culinary Institute for nearly two decades, most notably with a $2 million gift to expand the museum in 2015. Diana Milock serves on the board of the NMC Foundation and as a member of the campaign steering committee for the current funding campaign. The Milocks were named NMC Fellows, the college’s highest honor, in 2014.

Mississippi

For the third consecutive time, Coahoma Community College (CCC) has won a competitive $75,000 grant from Home Depot. The company’s Retool Your School Program aims to give back to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) what they have given to their respective communities.

Popular voting through social media posts containing #Coahoma_RYS21, weekly competitions, and online votes cast on CCC’s behalf from late February through March narrowed down finalists. CCC received more than 400,000 votes during the competition, securing the win.

“It is humbling to know that we have an active student body, an involved faculty/staff, and we also have people from across this nation who love Coahoma,” said CCC President Valmadge T. Towner. “We are young. We are small. We are in a rural setting. However, our support is national.”

Finalists submitted campus improvement proposals. CCC plans to continue to refresh campus courtyard/outdoor spaces and also update various spaces in the health sciences, career and technical education, and academic divisions.

North Carolina

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College will use a $12,500 grant from the Gene Haas Foundation to assist students enrolled in manufacturing, machining and engineering-related programs. The college will use the funds to support scholarships and National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) credentialing. Up to $2,500 of the grant may be used for sponsorships of manufacturing and engineering project teams or competitions such as SkillsUSA.

“We appreciate the continued partnership of the Gene Haas Foundation to help our students pursue successful careers in manufacturing and enhance our region’s economic development,” said Rowan-Cabarrus President Carol Spalding.

Ohio

Lakeland Community College received a $440,000 state grant to provide scholarships to students in the field of healthcare, which is the fastest-growing job sector in Ohio.

“We’ve heard from healthcare employers that they’ve had difficulty in hiring enough skilled workers, so it’s critical that we increase the number of graduates to meet the growing needs of this employment sector,” said Deborah Hardy, dean for health technologies, associate provost for teaching and learning and dean of faculty.

Texas

College of the Mainland (COM) announced a $301,576 donation to help local students participating in the Opening Doors Promise Scholarship program. Funded by the Dickinson Management District No. 1, the last-dollar scholarship covers tuition and fees for qualifying students from Dickinson, Texas, starting at the college this fall.

“We want our students to come home and come back to us with good, high-paying jobs, and education means a lot to that effort,” said Mary Dunbaugh, president of the management district. “It’s hope that our students will have an opportunity for a higher education, and they will bring that knowledge back to the community and help the community grow.”

Representatives from Dickinson Management District No. 1 and the Dickinson City Council presented a check to College of the Mainland for a new Promise scholarship. (Photo: COM)

About the Author

Tabitha Whissemore
is a contributor to Community College Daily and managing editor of AACC's Community College Journal.