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.
The “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.
||Continue/start a certificate or degree program
||Spend 6-12 weeks training for an industry credential
“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.”