Federal government announces grant program that is geared toward community collegesMany federal and state government agencies are providing schools with grants that are intended to help them start new training programs for in-demand industries, such as engineering and nursing. As a result, colleges and universities are taking advantage of these funds and setting up curricula that will help educate students for jobs of need in their respective regions.

For instance, the U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that they are accepting applications for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program, the Asheville Citizen-TImes reports.

In collaboration with the Department of Education, the Labor Department will award nearly $500 million this year and approximately $2 billion over the next four years, which will help community colleges establish or improve career training as it pertains to their area.

Officials told the news source that the funding will "support the development of postsecondary programs of two years or less that use evidence-based or innovative strategies to prepare students for successful careers in growing and emerging industries."

They added that by helping to increase the number of workers who attain degrees, certificates and other credentials, the program emphasizes President Obama's vision in helping Americans attend at least one year of college.

The grants will also aim to push schools to offer more accelerated programs and online curricula to help students graduate and enter the workforce faster. Moreover, officials told the news source that the funding will help facilitate improved retention and graduation rates as well as the development of instructional courses that meet industry needs.

Michigan community college applies for federal grant to change careers

Officials from the Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) recently announced that they will apply for the grant money to help educate individuals who lost their jobs to overseas competition in new career fields, Central Michigan Life reports.

"it is clearly one of the largest grant initiatives for community colleges in recent years," Mike Hanson, president of the MCCA, told the news source. "Right now most of our colleges are faced with record enrollment and a decline in resources."

Officials from the Lake Michigan Community College added that they plan to apply for grants to help them expand their existing job retraining program. Furthermore, many people have been enrolling in the program since factories have closed down in surrounding counties. Nearly 250 individuals attended the program in 2010 as a result of the area auto industry layoffs.

Other Michigan community colleges are seeking partnerships with each other and local businesses. Moreover, some schools indicated that they would use the money to convert their program to the online format or even build a new curriculum altogether.

Tennessee-based university receives federal funds to bolster programs

Likewise, schools in Tennessee are receiving federal grants that will help them launch or strengthen in-demand programs such engineering and computer science.

Tennessee State University recently announced that they have received a $1.3 million federal grant to help create the Interdisciplinary Graduate Engineering Research Institute, The Tennessean reports.

The funding will allow the school to develop a state-of-the-art research facility for the College of Engineering, Technology and Computer Science. Furthermore, the monies will be used to renovate and relocate five laboratories to the new facility.

The university also received an additional $2.8 million, which will be put toward its School of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences. Officials told the news source that the money will be used to help improve teaching, research and extension initiatives.

According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, nearly 44 percent of U.S. undergraduates are enrolled in community colleges, which represents nearly 6 million students. 

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