West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s Workforce and Community Education (WCE) division has been named a recipient of a $150,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to support the Job Ready, Willing and Able (JRWA) initiative. Funding was made available through the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Walmart Foundation to 17 community colleges across the country in support of workforce training programs.
The AACC announced the $4.19 million three-year grant from the Walmart Foundation, including the $2.67 million directly supporting the 17 community colleges, in a national press release this morning. The JRWA initiative will provide middle-skill training, industry recognized credentials and access to employment across varying industry sectors in each of the 17 communities.
The initiative aims to provide more than 5,000 unemployed adults with new skills, credentials and jobs. The participating colleges, selected through a highly competitive process, address current and potential growth of jobs in their communities. WVU Parkersburg and other selected colleges will work closely with local businesses, economic development leaders and the area workforce systems to collaboratively address the needs of the unemployed.
“We are so grateful to the AACC and the Walmart Foundation. This grant gives us the opportunity to expand our Chemical and Polymer Operator Technology program,” said Michele Wilson, executive director of the WCE division at WVU Parkersburg. “Doing so will allow us to assist the industry with the preparation of skilled workforce that is essential in meeting both current needs and projected local economic development needs.”
Through additional state funding made available through the West Virginia Community and Technical College System, WVU Parkersburg developed this program to train and educate students in a highly-skilled trade through a cooperative educational experience. Polymer Alliance Zone (PAZ) and the Mid-Ohio Valley Workforce Investment Board have also partnered with the college throughout this endeavor.
“We are proud and honored to be given the chance to provide our students and the surrounding community with the skills necessary to support the needs of our area businesses,” said President Dr. Marie Foster Gnage.
In addition to WVU Parkersburg, recipients serving as mentee colleges include Grossmont College (Calif.); Community College of Aurora (Colo.); St. Johns River State College (Fla.); Kirkwood Community College (Iowa); Ivy Tech Community College (Ind.); Hazard Community and Technical College (Ky.); Jamestown Community College (N.Y.); Cuyahoga Community College (Ohio); Montgomery County Community College (Penn.); Northeast State Community College (Tenn.); Tarrant County College District (Texas); and Snow College (Utah);
Four of the 17 colleges will serve as mentor colleges, with support from AACC, the National Association of Workforce Boards, AACC Affiliate Councils and industry associations and will provide guidance to the 13 mentee colleges. The four selected mentor colleges are Arkansas Northeastern College (Ark.); Northeast Community College (Neb.); Umpqua Community College (Ore.); and Northern Virginia Community College (Va.).