REV Grants: the huge public response is sobering, and some of the stories behind the numbers are heart-wrenching

Home|Blog|REV Grants: the huge public response is sobering, and some of the stories behind the numbers are heart-wrenching

VCCS college navigators, coaches and admissions personnel are working overtime to make sure that people who qualify for a new state grants program can be vetted and enrolled by the December 14 deadline.

Thousands of potential applicants have made inquiries at the vccs.edu/rev web page since Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced the limited-time grants on October 30.

Image of instructor helping studentThe “Re-Employing Virginians” (REV) initiative is funded with federal CARES Act money and offers to pay for up to $3,000 for tuition for targeted career and workforce training programs at Virginia’s Community Colleges, for people whose jobs were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

As of this morning, vccs.edu/rev had logged almost 130,000 visitors. And almost 26,000 of those online visitors had taken the extra step of signing up to see if they might qualify for the grants as of the end of last week (the latest numbers available at this newsletter’s deadline.) See table below.

Here are just a few of the comments offered by some of the potential grant applicants:
• “I lost my job back in the spring and have been struggling to find a new one ever since.”
• “I really need this, I come from a poor family. My mom passed when I was two and my dad is on disability.”
• “Having a career and being able to find better job and give my two sons everything they need has been hard this year. Going back to school after battling cancer would be the best thing that could ever happen.”
• “I want to do better for my kids.”
• “I desperately need some assistance to get restarted. I have worked in the special events industry for 20 years and that does not seem to be coming back anytime soon.”
• “I am 54 years old and lost my job due to Covid-19. I have been struggling to pay bills and keep my head above water since all of this has started.”
• “My goal is to go back to school and become the nurse I’m meant to be.”

“Our college teams, especially our navigators, are working to help individuals to pursue their career goals and to connect them to the many financial aid sources at our colleges,” said Laura Clark, assistant vice chancellor for Student Success and Professional Development. “This is hard work, it requires a lot of knowledge of the college and their services. But more importantly it takes a great deal of passion and understanding of the many struggles our fellow Virginian’s are currently facing.”

“Each potential applicant is seen as an individual and is being treated as such. This is a heavy lift but I am confident that our navigators and the teams at the colleges will rise to the occasion to assist their communities in spite of the herculean efforts that are required,” Clark added.

As of the end of last week, 1,233 REV grant applicants had been enrolled in courses that begin in the spring 2021 semester. The table below shows the numbers of inquiries per college, as of the end of last week.

College Continue/start a certificate or degree program Spend 6-12 weeks training for an industry credential Grand Total
Blue_Ridge 325 90 415
Central_Virginia 399 160 559
Dabney_S_Lancaster 80 13 143
Danville 239 70 309
Eastern_Shore 91 24 115
Germanna 842 274 1116
J.Sargeant_Reynolds 1879 843 2722
John_Tyler 1212 457 1669
Lord_Fairfax 338 95 433
Mountain_Empire 153 39 192
New_River 245 65 310
Northern_Virginia 5900 1766 7666
Patrick_Henry 288 73 361
Paul D_Camp 363 124 487
Piedmont_Virginia 395 130 525
Rappahannock 330 98 428
Southside_Virginia 333 119 452
Southwest_Virginia 113 27 140
Thomas_Nelson 1575 689 2264
Tidewater 3322 1207 4529
Virginia_Highlands 123 34 157
Virginia Western 520 150 670
Wytheville 210 56 266
Grand Total 19275 6653 25928

“Together we can make tomorrow brighter,” writes Tidewater Community College President Marcia Conston in an op-ed in the Virginian Pilot.  “Like all of you, I share the reality that we cannot control much about our future during one of the most tumultuous times faced by this nation. I am grateful that the college continues to serve our community by providing real time support to anyone unemployed or underemployed due to the pandemic.

“What separates the REV program from other initiatives is that it jump-starts the future,” writes the Richmond Times-Dispatch in an editorial. “And career training can bring years-long benefits for workers who acquire new skills, for employers who strengthen their teams and for the commonwealth to position the readiness of its workforce to attract new employers.”

 

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