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Camp announces partnership, grants

Paul D. Camp Community College is part of the Virginia Ready Initiative.

The recently established nonprofit organization, VA Ready for short, was formed in response to economic hardships caused by COVID-19. The goal is to offer workforce training that will help unemployed Virginians get back to work. Camp’s VA Ready programs include information technology certifications, and fast-track welding and health care programs. All of Virginia’s community colleges are participating.

“Through this partnership, community colleges and their existing workforce credential grant programs called FastForward, will be able to meet state business needs by providing students with quality, short-term training,” said Dr. Angela Lawhorne, Camp’s director of workforce development.

VA Ready and its partners — 20 of the state’s leading businesses — provide incentives

for motivated, out-of-work Virginians to re-train for in-demand jobs in high-growth sectors. Upon

achieving their new credential in one of 29 programs, participants receive a $1,000 credential achievement award and are offered interview opportunities. Philanthropic donations and company contributions fund the program.

“Community colleges are in this unique position to help get people back to work,” said Camp

President Dr. Daniel Lufkin. “In a way, it’s what we have been doing all along — offering

relevant training and programs to fulfill the goals of the students, but also meet the needs of our

area employers. It has just become more crucial due to the pandemic.”

The FastForward training programs have an average out-of-pocket cost of just over $1,000, the college said in an announcement. In addition to supporting credential earners with financial incentives, VA Ready business partners will work with college leaders to ensure that programs stay focused and relevant to industry needs. Visit vaready.org for more information.

Camp is also offering other grant-supported workforce and education initiatives.

The college recently received a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The $306,726 grant will fund Student Support Services, which is a federal TRIO program that is focused on helping students graduate from college. The grant will pay for services such as academic tutoring, financial aid advice, career and college mentoring, help in choosing courses, and other forms of assistance.

“Student Support Services has been part of Camp Community College for over 30 years,” said

SSS Director Hyler Scott. “Annually, we serve more than 150 students, with over 20 students

graduating and transferring to senior institutions.” The program began in 1968 and is one of the eight federal TRIO programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help higher education students succeed.

Camp is also among six of Virginia’s community colleges to receive support to develop and launch a pilot program aimed at earning students health care credentials that will lead to better jobs.

The program is possible thanks to funding from Sentara Healthcare and Optima Health, and the ECMC Foundation. The grants, totaling $450,000, will be awarded to the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education and will fund the new Healthcare Pathways program at Camp, as well as Blue Ridge, Central Virginia, Germanna, Tidewater and Virginia Western community colleges.

At Camp, this will provide a bridge for non-credit students to transition to credit-based health care programs that will give them the opportunity to advance their careers.

“Currently there are some components of the Fast Track Healthcare program that allow the student some credit for prior learning, but they would not get credit for the entire program,” said Dr. Debbie Hartman, dean of Camp’s nursing and allied health program. The 21-week Fast Track Healthcare program with FastForward stackable credentials enables students to complete the program in a short amount of time in order to get them to work quickly. Tasha Taylor recently joined Camp as a full-time advisor for nursing and allied health students, in order to help ensure the program’s success.

“Thanks to the generosity of these donors, we will be able to remain focused on student success by providing support to the students, so that they may take the precise steps toward their educational goals, therefore saving them time and money,” said Lufkin.