Sep 11 2006 12:00AM
PJC will receive more than $4 million in federal and state grants in upcoming years, including funding for several new programs.
SUCCEED Florida!, a program founded in 2005 by the state legislature to fund workforce education programs, is giving $810,000 to PJC during the 2006-2007 term. The money will provide funds for three new programs and the continuation of three more.
“Out of 28 community colleges, we got the third highest amount,” said Grants Coordinator Debbie Douma. “We’re the only one that got funding in every category we applied for.”
The grants fund education in manual labor services such as carpentry, manufacturing, automotive technology, and electrical work as well as public services like nursing and teaching.
Nursing and teaching remain SUCCEED Florida!’s main priority, but recent workforce shortages led to the addition of allied health, manufacturing, and automotive industries in this year’s funding.
The extra funding will provide students with more hands-on training they wouldn’t receive otherwise.
“It’s helping us to integrate more technology into our curriculum,” said Keith Samuels, the nursing department’s educational services database manager.
PJC’s nursing program, based at the Warrington campus, will now be able to use patient simulation in training their students. The patient simulation will help nursing students gain experience not available to students in actual hospital settings.
The extra funding provided by SUCCEED Florida! will create a better learning environment for students. This new technology will “help [students] feel more confident,” Samuels said.
Also, over the next five years the U.S. Department of Education will provide nearly $3.5 million to PJC’s Education Talent Search and Educational Opportunity Center. The two programs provide information and counseling concerning college admission, financial aid, and applications.
The Educational Opportunity Center is geared toward adults who wish to start or continue post-secondary education. The funding from grants will help provide information and services for the Center’s clients.
“It covers all of our staff and equipment,” said Kevin Dugger, who works in the EOC.
As for the aid given to clients, the EOC provides valuable information that helps in determining a student’s future.
“We use the funding we receive to help our students determine what they want to do, and help with job placement,” Dugger said.
The program also focuses on financial aid for students and other tasks some may not be able to do on their own.
“We help students in filling out a FAFSA or something more involved like contacting administrators at a college or university,” Dugger said.
The Education Talent Search targets disadvantaged students from local middle and high schools who have the potential to excel in higher education.
The grant money will be used to further this service, by providing help to middle and high school students in the program in areas such as acquiring federal funding and loans, picking a college or university, and applying to post-secondary facilities. ETS provides this service by sending a representative to each school within PJC’s jurisdiction to speak to students and provide valuable information on campus.
The new bevy of grants coming into PJC will increase enrollment and aid existing students by providing the propensity for higher education at a lower cost to the individual.