North Carolina announces $34 million grant program to fund summer college courses

North Carolina announces $34 million grant program to fund summer college courses

April 26, 2022 0 By Victor Skinner

North Carolina is offering $34 million in grants for summer college courses and funding for K-12 programs that address learning loss and mental health needs.

Gov. Roy Cooper last week announced $34 million in new federal funding North Carolina officials are appropriating for a series of education programs to help students continue to recover from the pandemic.

The governor devoted the largest amount — $27 million — to creating a Summer Accelerator grant program that will provide tuition assistance to college students who take summer courses to accelerate or stay on track towards graduation.

The program will provide grants of up to $5,000 to cover tuition, fees, books, housing, and other expenses based on the number of summer courses students take. The grants are open to North Carolina residents working toward their first college degree or credential, and will be available for the 2022 and 2023 summers.

“Many of the jobs of today and tomorrow require a degree or credential beyond high school,” Cooper said. “This funding will help students who lost ground during the pandemic to get back on track toward their degree and support K-12 students in need of mental health support.”

The Summer Accelerator program will provide grants to the UNC System, the NC Community College System, and independent colleges participating in state need-based grants through the State Education Assistance Authority. The UNC System will receive $16.3 million in funding, while the other entities each will receive just over $5.3 million.

“For community college students who are balancing a job, family and college, the Summer Accelerator grants provide a lifeline to shorten their time to earn a degree and enter the job market,” said Thomas Stith, president of the NC Community College System. “These grants are critical, particularly at this time when our Great 58 community colleges around the state are helping fuel North Carolina’s job engine and growing economy.”

Other aspects of the funding package include $5 million to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to expand Youth Mental Health First Aid training. The training teaches adults who work with youth, such as teachers and school staff, how to identify and support youth ages 12-18 who are experiencing mental health and substance use challenges and how to help in crisis situations.

“We know the COVID-19 pandemic increased mental health and substance use issues for many North Carolinians,” DHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley said. “Recovering stronger together from this pandemic means prioritizing behavioral health and the well-being of our children and families. We are grateful for this investment in both areas which supports early intervention programs that will make a critical difference in many teenagers’ lives.”

Another $1.7 million will go to the North Carolina Business Committee for Education to expand the Tech Team initiative, a student technology help desk program that provides students with training on information technology to earn certifications recognized by employers.

The North Carolina Education Corps (NCEC) will also receive $726,000 to help accelerate learning recovery for public school students through one-on-one or small group literacy tutoring by corps members.

“The funding will be used to reimburse NCEC for expenses incurred in recruiting, training, and placing tutors with North Carolina public schools since July 1, 2021 and to plan for the possible expansion into math tutoring during the 2022-23 school year,” according to a Cooper press release.

The NCEC was created in the fall of 2020 as an independent non-profit partnership between the North Carolina Board of Education, governor, local schools and state Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service.

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