The Chester County Workforce Development Board (WDB) was recently awarded a $2 million state grant to enable qualified individuals sidetracked while in college or in a certification program to re-engage with their studies to graduate or become credentialed. The Near Completers Funds will assist Chester County residents who seek to complete their education, allowing for greater career mobility and increased economic competitiveness in the region.
The Near Completers Grant awarded to Chester County by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry will bring together the workforce development and post-secondary ecosystems in Chester, Montgomery, and Berks counties. This first-of-its-kind collaboration will support nearly 100 Pennsylvanians with some college education but no degree to be employed in their intended training area. In Chester County, the program will be called Project Reconnect and administered by the Chester County Economic Development Council.
Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline said, “The Near Completers Grant is for individuals who started post-secondary education degree or certification and had to stop before completing due to unforeseen personal life situations. This funding allows those who qualify to finish what they started, feel a sense of accomplishment, and improve their earning potential.
“Having a trained and better-educated workforce is a win-win for Chester County, and Project Reconnect will be transformative to many in our community,” added the County Commissioners.
Chester County’s Director of Workforce Development, Jeannette Roman, said, “We are grateful to be awarded a Near Completers Grant because its premise can be utterly life-changing for those who participate. It’s a second chance for anyone forced to quit school due to unforeseen personal life circumstances and struggling to catch up or get ahead ever since. We look forward to working with all our partners to bring Project Reconnect to as many people as possible.”
Project Reconnect will be available to qualified individuals working towards employment in a high-priority or in-demand occupation – primarily healthcare – by assisting with childcare, flexible scheduling, transportation, food, housing, health and wellness, language access, and family support. Support will come in the form of project managers, success navigators, faculty advisory teams, PA CareerLink, and employer partners.
The program is set to begin June 1, 2023.