grant will help community college support workforce readiness initiatives | news/arlington

Northern Virginia Community College received a $240,000 Innovation Grant in the initial phase of the $10 million Beyond Completion Challenge from the Strada Education Network, one of 15 higher education institutions to receive the funding.

The challenge aims to help higher education institutions identify new solutions and expand existing solutions that will improve career and life opportunities for more students of color, first-generation students, those struggling paying for education, working students and non-traditional adult learners.

The grant will support the community college’s efforts to build on its existing career services through a personalized program called “Career Up,” which is designed specifically to meet the unique needs of first-generation students.

“Many of our first-generation students see NOVA as their first step towards a meaningful and exciting career,” said college president Anne Kress. “Our new Career Up program will provide first-generation students with the skills and networks to access rewarding, high-paying jobs in high-demand career paths, strengthening their future and our region’s economy.

Career Up is an intensive 15-week program that helps first-generation college students gain essential knowledge and skills for career exploration, planning, job readiness and more. As part of the program, students will be matched with professional mentors and participate in work placements.

The initial pilot will be conducted in the summer and fall of 2022. To complement the Career Up program for students, the college will also develop a webinar-based “Career Awareness Toolkit” for faculty. and staff.

The Toolbox training series will focus on college career ladders/paths in areas such as healthcare, information technology, business and finance, public administration and security and entertainment, skilled trades and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).

Select faculty and staff will be trained in career counseling and planning to ensure sufficient support for students through the Career Up program and beyond.

Strada partners with the Higher Education Working Group and the Beyond Completion Challenge opportunity to reimagine higher education to better meet the needs of students. Each participating institution will develop an initiative on its campus or in collaboration with other organizations, including industry partners, to foster a more effective higher education experience.

In addition to Northern Virginia Community College, grants of up to $250,000 have been awarded to:

Arizona State University • City University of New York • Georgia State University • Georgia Institute of Technology • New York University • North Carolina A&T State University • Southern New Hampshire University • University of Arizona • University of Minnesota Rochester • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill • University of Oregon • University of Pittsburgh • University of Texas System • Virginia Tech

Strada will provide more than $6 million in additional support later this year to expand these grants and will engage in a year-long collaboration with grant recipients to improve outcomes.

“As we recover from a global pandemic, we understand that our economy and our education system are changing dramatically,” said Ruth Watkins of Strada. “We need to shift our focus beyond getting credentials and degrees. The Beyond Completion Challenge was designed not only to come up with new ideas on how to achieve this goal, but also to put resources behind them so that more students can benefit.

[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

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