HCC is only community college in country selected for STEM Talent Challenge

Howard Community College has been awarded $300,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship as a winner of the STEM Talent Challenge. EDA received applications from communities across the nation for this highly competitive opportunity. Howard Community College (HCC) is one of seven awardees, and the only community college in the country to be selected. The winners of this inaugural grant were announced last week by the Department of Commerce.

The STEM Talent Challenge seeks to develop or expand regional workforce capacity, build STEM workforce readiness, and spur innovation that will enhance economic competitiveness and create jobs. The grant funding is designed to support the planning, development, and implementation of each awardee’s proposed project.

Howard Community College’s award-winning project proposal aims to scale the college’s work-and-learn programs to new audiences of employers and trainees, with a focus on underrepresented and underemployed populations as well as high school students in Howard County. Using this grant funding, the college will build systemic relationships with companies to expand internship and apprenticeship opportunities for its students. Howard Community College expects to form sustainable partnerships that will result in approximately 100 participants in work-and-learn programs over the grant’s two-year course. The project is set to launch in March 2021.

“HCC’s apprenticeship programs are succeeding, and this grant funding will allow us to expand and provide additional opportunities to our students while simultaneously forging stronger relationships with local businesses,” said Dr. Kathleen Hetherington, HCC president. “We are optimistic that the model we develop will be replicated by other local community colleges to enhance the collaboration synergy between community colleges and industries in our region.”

The project will provide entrepreneurial consulting free-of-charge to small-to-medium sized IT businesses that have been impacted by the transition to telework caused by COVID-19. Participating businesses will agree to employ at least one person from one of the work-learn models. Customized training packages leading to various cybersecurity and cloud computing certifications will be provided to apprentices, interns, and incumbent workers.

To learn more about HCC apprenticeship programs, visit howardcc.edu/apprenticeships.

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Scott E