Program Objectives are reached through a Competitive Education Grant Program, Workforce Financial Aid and the Loan Repayment Talent Attraction Program (TAP).
The Competitive Education program funds initiatives designed to assist residents of the tobacco region in obtaining levels of education previously not promoted, or available, in the region. The program focuses on ways to increase the education and skill levels of the region’s labor pools, as a method to attract and retain employers. Objectives for this funding are to enhance workforce readiness through support for proven and/or innovative programs, and to focus on “gaps” between education supply and occupational demand with emphasis on post-secondary STEM-H and advanced manufacturing career skills. The FY23 applications were due July 21, 2022.
FY23 Competitive Education:
Workforce Financial Aid
Funding for Workforce Financial Aid is made available to Community Colleges, the Higher Education Centers in Southern and Southwest Virginia, along with New College Institute, to serve students residing in the tobacco region, based on the following priorities in order:
- Workforce Credentials – All certifications that can be completed in six (6) months or fewer;
- STEM-H and Advanced Manufacturing applicants who can attain their degree / certificate within one year;
- Stem-H and Advanced Manufacturing applicants who are working towards a degree or certificate, for which completion will require more than one year;
- All other students who might obtain their degree/certificate within one (1) year;
- All other full-time, program-placed students. for which completion will require more than one year.
The current FY22 Commission budget (adopted in May 2021) has $2.2 million available for the Workforce Financial Aid Program. While this is a reduction from the amount awarded in the prior year (~$3 million), as directed by the Commission, it does not contain any further reductions or repurposing of funds as had been previously discussed at the January Commission meeting.
To fairly manage all funding requests within the current approved budget, TRRC Grants Staff suggests that for the eight institutions that received the maximum $315,000 funding for 2021-22, that each school consider requesting up to $240,000 for the 2022-23 year; and for the three colleges with smaller service areas in the Tobacco Region consider requesting up to $100,000 for the 2022-23 year.
For students receiving FastForward Workforce Credential funding, the commission will support one-sixth of the cost of the training program and certification, (half of the one-third share the student is responsible for) with the remainder to be covered by FFWC and potentially state FANTIC funds or other sources. However, please note the Education Committee has agreed to allow up to 50% tuition reimbursement for FFWC-eligible training cohorts that are conducted during periods when FFWC funding is not available due to state funding limitations.