NC announces $34 million grant program to fund summer college classes

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On April 22, Governor Roy Cooper earmarked $34 million in new federal funding to further help post-secondary students graduate or graduate and to help meet the learning and mental health needs of students in K-12 as students continue to recover from the pandemic.

The governor is investing $27 million in the creation of the Summer Accelerator grant program. The program will provide tuition assistance to public and private post-secondary students taking summer courses to accelerate or stay on track toward graduation.

“Many of the jobs of today and tomorrow require a degree or diploma beyond high school,” Governor Cooper said. “This funding will help students who have lost ground during the pandemic get back on track to graduating and support K-12 students who need mental health support.

The Summer Accelerator Grant Program will award grants of up to $5,000 to cover tuition, fees, books, housing, and other expenses based on the number of summer courses a student takes. To be eligible for a Summer Accelerator grant, a student must be a resident of North Carolina for tuition purposes, be enrolled in a college degree program or post-secondary credential, and be working toward their first post-secondary degree or credential. Funds will be available for students taking classes during the summer of 2022 and 2023. Students interested in the program should contact their college financial aid office.

Funding for the Summer Accelerator program will be provided in the form of grants to the UNC system, the NC Community College System (NCCCS), and independent colleges participating in state grants on a needs basis through the State Education Assistance Authority (NC SEAA). The UNC system receives just over $16.3 million in funding, and the NCCCS and independent colleges (via NC SEAA) each receive just over $5.3 million in funding.

“For community college students balancing work, family, and college, Summer Accelerator scholarships are a lifeline to shorten their time to graduate and enter the workforce,” said Thomas Stith, president of NC Community. College System. “These grants are critical, especially at a time when our 58 large community colleges across the state are helping fuel the jobs engine and growing North Carolina economy.”

“The UNC system has set strong goals for on-time graduation,” said UNC system president Peter Hans. “Now more than ever, students need our help to stay on track and cross the finish line, and the summer school is a key opportunity for them to do so. We are grateful to the Governor for his support of student success.

“NCICU and our 36 independent colleges and universities deeply appreciate this innovative support for North Carolina students,” said Hope Williams, president of NC Independent Colleges and Universities. “These funds will allow students to catch up and accelerate their progress towards their university degree as they recover from the challenges created by the pandemic.”

Governor Cooper first proposed a more robust version of the Summer Accelerator program in his American Rescue Plan Act budget recommendations using state fiscal stimulus funds. This is now the Governor’s latest initiative to ensure higher education remains affordable and develop a skilled workforce.

In addition to the Summer Accelerator grant program, the package also includes the following investments:

$5 million to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to expand Mental Health Youth First Aid (MHFA) training. PSSM for Youth training teaches adults who work with youth, including teachers and school staff, how to identify and support young people aged 12-18 who are experiencing mental health and addiction issues and how to help in crisis situations. The funds will be used to certify new Youth PSSM Instructors statewide and provide in-person or virtual Youth PSSM training to public and non-public school staff and other community members involved in the lives of youth. This follows Governor Cooper’s August 2020 investment of $40 million in GEER funds in K-12 public schools to help schools meet the physical and mental health needs of students during the pandemic. .

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased mental health and addiction issues for many North Carolina residents,” said Kody H. Kinsley, secretary of the Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. North. “Recovering stronger from this pandemic together means prioritizing the behavioral health and well-being of our children and families. We are grateful for this investment in both areas that supports early intervention programs that will make a critical difference in the lives of many adolescents.

$1.7 million to the NC Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) to expand the Technical team initiative. Tech Team is a student technology help desk program where students receive training in resolving information technology (IT) support issues and earn employer-recognized IT certifications. Students then complete a computer support internship through their school district, providing computer support and repair services to students and teachers. Currently, 10 school districts operate Tech Team pilots. At least 263 students have participated in computer training through the pilot projects, including 68 students as computer interns in their school district.

$726,000 at North Carolina Education Corps (NCEC) to help accelerate learning recovery for public school students through high-impact literacy tutoring provided one-on-one or in small groups by “body members”. The funding will be used to reimburse the NCEC for expenses incurred to recruit, train and place tutors in North Carolina public schools since July 1, 2021 and to plan for the possible expansion of math tutoring during the school year. 2022-2023. The NCEC, which now operates as an independent nonprofit, was launched in fall 2020 as a new partnership between the North Carolina State Board of Education, the governor’s office, local school districts, and the NC Commission. on Volunteerism and Community Service. In August 2020, the Governor allocated $20 million in GEER funding to public schools to meet the educational needs of at-risk students and students with disabilities. Many school districts use these funds to hire NCEC corps members to support literacy tutoring for K-3 students.

Funding for these initiatives comes from federal Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools (EANS) funds that have been directed to the Governor’s Education Emergency Assistance Fund (GEER).

The Summer Accelerator grant program is the Governor’s latest initiative to ensure higher education remains affordable and develop a skilled workforce. In May 2021, the Governor launched the Longleaf Commitment Community College Grant Program which ensures that recent high school graduates from low-to-middle income families will receive at least $2,800 in federal and state grants to cover college tuition fees. tuition and most fees at one of the state institutions. 58 community colleges. The Commitment program complements the Federal Pell Grant and existing aid by providing an additional grant of $700 to $2,800 per year. An expansion of the Longleaf Commitment program has received bipartisan support through the state budget, supporting the high school class of 2022. To date, more than 13,600 students have received a Longleaf Commitment grant with more than 8 $.6 million to support students across the state. Sixty-three percent of scholarships went to students with household incomes below $70,000.

Photo by Melissa Schaub, Sandhills Sentinel photographer.

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