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News Release from Comptroller Susan Combs

For Immediate Release
October 20, 2009

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs Announces Every Chance Funds Awards

(AUSTIN) — Texas Comptroller Susan Combs today awarded $2.5 million in scholarships to community colleges and technical schools and $3.5 million in grant awards to nonprofit organizations that help prepare low-income students for careers in high-demand technical occupations.

The money is part of the Comptroller’s Every Chance Funds, a $25 million initiative providing grants and scholarships over the biennium for career and technical education. Combs’ program will help the state better serve students in getting the education they need to meet future work force challenges and promote the continued prosperity of our economically diverse state.

“These grants for scholarships and innovative, successful programs that train out-of-work and underemployed workers for in-demand jobs are essential because of the huge, positive potential impact they have on the state,” Combs said. “Texas higher education must meet future work force challenges, and a diverse economy will help our state continue to prosper. These projects help students get the skills they need to thrive in the work force.”

Created earlier this year as the “Jobs and Education for Texans” (JET) Fund by the 81st Legislature, Every Chance Funds includes $5 million for student scholarships for tuition and fees at community and technical colleges split over two years; $10 million to support and expand existing nonprofit programs with proven success in training unemployed and underemployed workers for in-demand jobs; and $10 million for startup funding in career and technical education programs, which the Comptroller will award later this year.

The Career and Technical Scholarship Fund is providing tuition grants to 54 Texas community colleges and public technical institutes. Recipient schools will award scholarships to students enrolled in a training program for high-demand occupations — such as engineering technology, welding, computer support and many others — where a certificate or an associate degree is a basic prerequisite. Students must also be permanent legal residents of the United States and able to demonstrate financial need.

In addition to this year’s $2.5 million in awards, the Comptroller will distribute another $2.5 million for scholarships in fiscal 2011. The amount of JET scholarship funds available annually to each public community college or public technical institute is determined by a formula established by the Comptroller allocating 60 percent of the funds to certificate programs and 40 percent to associate degrees. This year, each college received a proportionate share of the funding based on the number of degrees awarded in 2007-08.

The Comptroller’s list of high-demand degree areas include computer, information sciences and support services; engineering technologies; science technologies; construction trades; mechanical and repair technologies; precision production; and health professions and related clinical sciences.

The Career and Technical Scholarship Fund will help build a work force with the skills Texas employers need now and in the future.  In her 2008 Texas Works report, Combs pointed out that the number of jobs requiring technical training, certification or an associate degree is outpacing the number of workers available to fill them, despite the fact that many pay above-average salaries.

The $10 million Launchpad Fund supports and expands existing nonprofit programs with a proven track record of good performance. Today, the Comptroller awarded $3.5 million of these funds to the following nonprofit organizations:

  • $500,000 — Project QUEST, Inc., San Antonio (Alamo Workforce Development Board District)
  • $500,000 — Project ARRIBA, El Paso (Upper Rio Grande)
  • $500,000 — Capital IDEA, Austin (Capital Area)
  • $500,000 — H.I.S. BridgeBuilders, Dallas (Dallas)
  • $400,000 — Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement, Weslaco (Lower Rio Grande Valley)
  • $300,000 — Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement, Weslaco (Cameron County)
  • $300,000 — Liberty County Workforce Academy, Dayton (Gulf Coast)
  • $250,000 — Capital IDEA, Austin (Gulf Coast)
  • $250,000 — East Texas Literacy Council, Longview (East Texas)

Nonprofit organizations across the state feature programs that prepare low-income students for careers in high-demand technical occupations, such as welding, computer support, engineering technology, nursing and allied health professions.

The 501(c)(3) organizations must be governed by boards that include community and business leaders and must assist low-income students to prepare for, apply and enroll in public community colleges or technical schools in high-demand occupation training programs.

For more information about the funds, visit http://www.everychanceeverytexan.org/funds. The Texas Works report is available on the Comptroller’s Web site at www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/workforce.

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