South Texas College Receives $600K in grants for GED and workforce training
Foundation funds will support 1,000 individuals who need a high school diploma or GED.
Brand new funding awarded to STC supports the completion of a GED, credential, certificate, or associate degree for occupations in demand in the region.
South Texas College is one step closer to its goal of tapping into private foundations to support 1,000 at-risk individuals in need of GED and workforce training opportunities.
The initiative coordinated by the departments of Continuing Education and Resource Development, Management and Compliance (RDMC) worked to raise $600,000 in award agreements from private foundations.
STC’s Board of Trustees formalized and approved the latest installment of $289,388 by The Meadows Foundation to fund training for 485 individuals at their regular meeting Oct. 26.
“It’s amazing what the GED can do. It opens two very important gateways for those who didn’t have the opportunity to finish high school,” said Juan Carlos Aguirre, assistant to the President for Continuing Education. “It allows them to apply for a Pell grant and enroll in college, and it helps them enter employment that requires secondary credentials.”
Dr. Virginia Champion, RDMC Director, and Aguirre, are among the staff at STC who are coordinating their efforts to identify and pursue funding from private foundations.
Department of Continuing Education Director Olivia De La Rosa will implement and oversee the awarded projects.
The goal is to enable at least 90 percent of trainees to complete workforce training, obtain GEDs and earn industry-recognized certifications in areas such as Phlebotomy Technician, EKG Technician, Microsoft Office Specialist, Robot Operator, and Production Operator Assistant.
“The disproportion between the number of individuals without high school diploma or GED and the number of GEDs earned each year is sobering and alarming. If we want to change the educational landscape of the region, we need to invest in workforce development. And we really need to help the most disadvantaged because they have two strikes against them from the get go: they don’t have the resources to attend training and earn their GED, and they don’t have the GED to apply for financial aid.”
“We started assisting these individuals in 2007 thanks to a GED grant from Workforce Solutions,” Aguirre said. “Every year since then we have been applying for grants from public and private funders because we know this is the only way our target population can participate in training, get a meaningful job, break the poverty cycle and become self-sufficient.”
Of the 609,000 individuals in Hidalgo and Starr counties who are 18 years and older, about 151,000 of those (25 percent of the adult population) do not have a high school diploma or GED.
Only 305 GEDs were issued in 2020 and 372 in 2019 in Hidalgo and Starr Counties combined.
“The disproportion between the number of individuals without high school diploma or GED and the number of GEDs earned each year is sobering and alarming,” Aguirre said. “If we want to change the educational landscape of the region, we need to invest in workforce development. And we really need to help the most disadvantaged because they have two strikes against them from the get go: they don’t have the resources to attend training and earn their GED, and they don’t have the GED to apply for financial aid.”
The Meadows Foundation grant approved by the board on Tuesday is the latest award meant for at-risk individuals.
The college received the first round of funding in early September in the amount of $346,000 to train 381 individuals with grants awarded to South Texas College from three foundations: the Texas Pioneer Foundation, the Greater Texas Foundation, and the Rio-South Texas Education and Community Development Foundation.
The Meadows Foundation was established in 1948 by Algur H. and Virginia Meadows to benefit and serve the people of Texas. The Foundation has disbursed more than $1.29 billion to 3,600 organizations across the state. Grants are awarded to 501(c)(3) organizations and public institutions in arts and culture, civic and public affairs, education, health, human services, and initiatives focused on the environment, mental health, and public education. For additional information, visit www.mfi.org.
“South Texas College is very appreciative for the contributions made by these foundations,” Aguirre said. “They truly embrace our vision of a community where everyone gets a college education, graduates with a postsecondary industry certification, certificate or degree, and lands a job in a high-demand occupation; they embrace our vision of a society where everyone thrives, no matter their background or circumstances.”
For more information about Continuing Education at South Texas College, please visit https://www.southtexascollege.edu/cpit/cpwe.html. CPWE offices are located at three STC campuses including Pecan Plaza, Starr County, and Technology Campus.