Patrick Henry Community College was recently awarded a grant totaling nearly $155,000 from the Virginia Community College System.
The funding, called the ‘G3 grant’ is part of Virginia’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) which earmarked $5.1 million for education innovations in Virginia’s community colleges.
The “G3” stands for “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back.” With this grant, PHCC intends to make the path from applicant to graduate more straightforward for students.
“Finding the most intuitive track that works for students is something we are and have been actively doing at PHCC,” says Dr. Greg Hodges, PHCC’s vice president of Academic and Student Success Services. “This grant will come alongside us, support our efforts, and help us better serve our students.”
With this grant, PHCC plans to realign the academic plans for several high-demand programs to allow students to start their program-specific courses earlier and have opportunities to earn FastForward industry credentials along the way. These stackable credentials can provide graduates with a competitive advantage when job hunting and may improve their chances of advancement in their careers.
“Embedding the opportunity to earn an industry-recognized credential into an academic plan gives students a chance to taste success as they work towards their end goals,” said Rhonda Hodges, PHCC’s vice president of Workforce, Economic, and Community Development. Hodges oversees the career-credit classes at the college.
To design the curricula, college officials are working with area employers to develop programs that offer students the skills, credentials, and knowledge that employers hope to find in future employees.
These new “tracks” or pathways toward completion will actually begin before a student even applies to college as PHCC will use the grant to develop more dual enrollment opportunities. Dually enrolled students take college class while still in high school so they can enter college with a head start.
The program redesigns and dual-enrollment courses are being developed for high-demand areas including welding, Information Technology, engineering, nursing, physical therapy, and related programs.