Grants lead to tuition-free training

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

New federal grants will make job training more accessible to thousands.

More than $111 million in America’s Promise grants were awarded to 23 regional workforce partnerships across the country to connect more than 21,000 Americans to education and in-demand jobs. The grants, awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor, will support tuition-free education and training for jobs in industries that use the H-1B temporary visa program to meet industry workforce needs.

Several community colleges are leading workforce partnerships. How will they use the grant funds?

In California, Grossmont, Cuyamaca, MiraCosta and Chaffey Colleges are partnering with industry leaders and others to recruit, train and employ those who have faced job barriers—including veterans, Native Americans, ex-offenders and the unemployed—for careers in advanced manufacturing, information technology and emerging technology careers.

They’re calling it the SoCal Promise and targeting industries such as robotics, marine engineering, drone technology and cybersecurity and computer technology.

“By removing the cost of instruction, we are removing a substantial barrier to completing a higher education,” said Sunita “Sunny” Cooke, superintendent/president of the MiraCosta Community College District. “This will open up the door for more students from a variety of backgrounds to take advantage of intensive training that will prepare them for high-wage, high-skill and high-demand opportunities.”

Industry partners include the San Diego Maritime Alliance, the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership for Southern California, the National Tool & Machining Association, California Steel Industries and the Manufacturers’ Council of the Inland Empire.

A $6 million grant to Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) will help address West Michigan’s need for skilled health care workers. It’s the fastest growing occupation in the area, projected to add more than 55,000 jobs by 2022. GRCC will strengthen its medical assistant program, and will work with area employers on new programs, including ones for certified nursing assistants and sterile processing technicians.

Other partners in the initiative include Montcalm and Muskegon Community Colleges, Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids, West Michigan Works! and the Grand Rapids Urban League.

Missouri’s Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) also will use grant funding to focus on health care training. OTC, partnering with the City of Springfield‘s Department of Workforce Development, will provide training opportunities for 372 people looking to enter the health care industry. Training will be aimed at specifically behavioral support specialists, nursing assistants, and registered nurses. The $3 million grant will fund training for 372 people.

“Education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty,” Steven Bishop, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at OTC, said in a release.

New York’s Monroe Community College, leading the Finger Lakes United for Success Consortium, will use a $6-million grant to deliver training to 1,070 participants in manufacturing, IT and health care. Their initiative is called Project INSPIRE: Advancing Finger Lakes Forward.

Does your college offer tuition-free workforce training? Sound off on LinkedIn.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.