Danville Community College is launching a new grant program to support low-income students who are starting career training programs.
The SCALE UP 2 program seeks to build workplace readiness skills prior to students entering employment in their new career. It also offers free tuition and the chance to earn financial rewards.
The grant program is available to people interested in pursuing career credentials, who currently or previously have received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds. They must live in Danville, or in Halifax or Pittsylvania counties, have children under 19, and have a household income within 200% of the federal poverty level. For a family of two, the income limit is about $35,000; for a family of five, the income limit is $62,000.
“This program will provide much-needed resources and support for individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet,” President Jerry Wallace of Danville Community College said in a statement. “By providing access to career training, workplace readiness, and other support services, we believe we can make a significant impact on poverty reduction in our area.”
Participants first take part in a three-week workplace readiness training where they’re evaluated on their skills and careers interests, learn about communication and interviewing skills, and attend family nutrition classes. They also take the test for the National Career Readiness Certificate, which they can use to demonstrate to employers that they have attained basic workplace skills.
The training sessions take up to four hours per week.
Students who complete the introductory program can then go on to get tuition assistance for DCC’s career training programs such as phlebotomy and cosmetology, including free books and tools and help paying transportation expenses.
Once they complete their career training and enter the workforce, the students may be eligible for financial incentives at several points during their first year of work–up to $825.
Paul Farrar, who manages SCALE UP at DCC, said the program offers a small safety net for students just getting started on their career path. “For some students, going to class is not enough” to prepare them for the workforce, he said. SCALE UP 2 enhances what DCC is already offering to CTE students “and gives them more of the tools necessary for them to be successful all the way around.”
Farrar said six students are already signed up for the first monthly cohort, which starts in May. Danville Community College has offered similar services under a previous SCALE UP grant, and it offers two other complementary programs, TARE and CAPE, for pre-employment support services. Farrar expects DCC to serve at least 40 students across all three programs in the coming year.
The funding for the grant comes from the Virginia Department of Social Services.