Thanks to grants, computer science student MaryAnne Ohunyon could focus on school instead of working many hours.
Contact: Cherie Yurco;
For immediate release — April 21, 2022
(DALLAS) — Dallas College has stepped up its campaign to engage the community and reach more current and potential students impacted by COVID-19. The college wants to ensure that funding allocated to training the next generation of workers makes it into the hands of those who need it most. This includes creating a one-stop shop to evaluate each student for which grants they qualify for through one common application.
While federal, state, county and private grant money has been a welcome boost for those whose job prospects were affected by COVID-19, getting that money paired with the right candidates has been a challenge, said Gloria Smith, Dallas College associate vice chancellor of career connected learning. “Dallas College is in the unique position to be able to help people quickly train for in-demand jobs, and through these funds, the training is essentially free. The trick is getting that message across to our community.”
Dallas College was awarded a
Texas Reskilling and Upskilling through Education (TRUE) grant of $2.5 million. The goal of the money is to quickly (in less than six months) train those who lost jobs due to the pandemic for high-demand jobs through postsecondary workforce credentials and industry certifications. For example, TRUE grants can be used to train personnel for the more than 600 openings with the Dallas Police Department or more than 2,300 available IT jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund helps students who were financially impacted by the pandemic to continue their studies. Dallas College has had over 3,000 students apply for these funds. A team evaluates applications to see which students qualify and of those, which have the strongest need. Those who apply for GEER funds will automatically be evaluated for other funding programs. Additional GEER funds will be available for the Fall semester, and students will be able to apply again this summer.
Through CARES grants, Dallas College was able to assist about 3,200 credit students and more than 1,200 continuing education students to reskill for new careers. In addition,
from 2020 to date, over 116,000 Dallas College students received more than $82.9 million in CARES/Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) that covered child care, food, housing, learning materials, transportation and tuition to help them remain in school and complete their educational goals.
Grants Give Students Hope for a Brighter Future
Computer science student MaryAnne Ohunyon was in her senior year at Lake Highlands High School when the pandemic began. She described the difficult and confusing transition to online learning. “It was hard to keep up with assignments and communication,” she said. “Everything was all over the place, and we were just trying to navigate life itself.”
She received both GEER and CARES grants and is currently working on an associate degree. Faced with the challenge of balancing work and school, Ohunyon said, “The grant helped me focus on school, instead of working a lot of hours.” She now plans to graduate from Dallas College in Spring 2023 and transfer to a four-year school.
Feeling more hopeful about her future, Ohunyon said she’s learned “how to navigate different situations when my learning patterns change.” She said her long-term goal is to earn a master’s degree in software engineering.
Some funding programs have targeted specific areas. For example, Garland CARES grants provide tuition, class materials, job placement and other training support for Garland residents who were adversely affected by the pandemic. To date, these funds have helped 144 students take ESL classes, enroll in GED courses or participate in career training.
This year, more than $5 million in Adult Education and Literacy, as well as Youth Grant, funds from Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas were earmarked to help those who are unemployed or underemployed to quickly gain skills and credentials to help them launch new careers. Through Dallas College’s
WorkReadyU program, Dallas County residents can train for careers in accounting, construction, culinary arts, patient care, welding, EMT and much more. The program also assists with English skills, high school equivalency classes and job placement.
In October, Dallas College began operating the 7,000-square-foot workforce training Innovation Center dedicated to hands-on programs in construction and robotics, combined with a mobile lab to provide high school equivalency education and job training. With funding from the CARES Act and other training grants, the center helps bring long-term economic viability to southern Dallas County.
For students negatively impacted by COVID-19 who have had to put their educational plans on pause and who still owe money on their Dallas College accounts, the Texas Completion Repayment Grant can pay up to $1,000 toward their balances to allow them to re-enroll in classes. Last week, Dallas College notified 20,000 former students who may be eligible.
“The recent interest in retraining grants has been exponential,” said Smith. “Students will go through a selection and vetting process to help them get into our career-connected pipeline to complete their educational goals. We hope that by September, every member of the community who stands to benefit from these reskilling opportunities does.“
Dallas College’s involvement in these grants is part of the statewide
Building a Talent Strong Texas initiative aimed at educating, graduating and preparing more students to join the workforce and drive the economy than ever before.
“Creating more opportunities for students to gain professional experience and hands-on training is critical to meeting our goals,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Harrison Keller. “Together, these grants will bolster the talent pipeline and offer meaningful work-based experiences that drive students into competitive careers and increased economic mobility.”
To learn more about all these free career training opportunities at Dallas College, current and potential students can call 214-860-5902 (English) or 214-860-5712 (Spanish).
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