On April 19, 2022, the PNC Foundation announced it was awarding a $112,500 grant to the Thaddeus Stevens College Foundation to expand education and training opportunities within the college’s Workforce and Economic Development Center (WEDC). This funding is intended to help low-income adults from Black and Brown communities who are unemployed or under-employed by providing increased access to direct, short-term educational services over the next three years.
After completing the training program, these individuals will be prepared for entry level jobs in the building trades, welding, and building maintenance and repair, which are classified as “high priority” occupations by Lancaster County.
The poverty rate in Lancaster is 26.5%, a dramatically higher than average percentage of residents living below the poverty line compared to the rest of Pennsylvania. Data show that low-income students are five times more likely to drop out of high school than those who are high-income, resulting in long-term effects on their ability to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. PNC and Thaddeus Stevens aim to help eliminate some of the barriers that are sustaining this gap by offering viable solutions for the thousands of individuals locally that need training for living wage jobs.
College president Pedro Rivera published an essay the morning of the grant announcement expanding on the College’s goals for this funding and why it comes at a critical time. You can read that below.
PNC & Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology Collaborate in Support of Economic Empowerment in Lancaster
Many people dream of completing a high-quality, short-term training program and having multiple good-paying job opportunities waiting for them. For students enrolled in our Workforce and Economic Development Center (WEDC), these dreams are becoming their reality.
Today, the PNC Foundation funded several new dreams when it awarded a $112,500 grant to the Thaddeus Stevens College Foundation to expand education and training opportunities within our WEDC for even more adults in our community over the next three years.
Specifically, this grant will offer direct, short-term educational services through our WEDC to 14 low-income adults from Black and Brown communities who are unemployed or under-employed. After completing our short-term training program, these individuals will be prepared for entry level jobs in the building trades, welding, and building maintenance and repair.
As part of our mission, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology (TSCT) helps to enhance the quality of life for low-income individuals through workforce-readiness training for in-demand jobs. Historically, our short-term programs have a placement rate of 96%, and we are confident that this funding will support more Lancaster residents in increasing their employability skills and obtaining full-time jobs. But it won’t stop there. PNC’s grant will also help create lifelong economic prosperity as our students accept family-sustaining jobs, purchase homes, build wealth, and contribute to our collective community.
The poverty rate in Lancaster is 26.5%, a dramatically higher than average percentage of residents living below the poverty line compared to the rest of Pennsylvania. Data show that low-income students are five times more likely to drop out of high school than those who are high-income, and 13 times less likely to graduate from high school on time, resulting in long-term effects on their ability to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. We must collectively work as a community to change these devastating statistics. But how? Our community also faces workforce shortages in many technical fields, including welding, carpentry, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, refrigeration, plumbing, and facilities maintenance, among others. These occupations are classified by the county as “high priority,” meaning the supply of qualified workers does not meet demand, the job requires advanced skills, and it pays living wages. PNC and Thaddeus Stevens have taken this opportunity to work together to eliminate some of the barriers that are sustaining this gap and offer viable solutions for the thousands of individuals that need training for living wage jobs.
This might seem simple on the surface, but to help build employability skills, we need to offer a holistic approach for those who identify as low income, unemployed, or underemployed. Wrap-around student support is a proven practice for removing barriers that low-to-moderate-income adults often face in accessing workforce skill development. Many students often need financial support to cover costs associated with tuition, tools, and safety gear. However, the need for support doesn’t stop there – our students often also need help with transportation, food, work-safe clothing, and childcare. A large part of this grant will help address these critical – yet often unmet – needs that can be tremendous barriers to the success of our students, who are our fellow community members.
This grant will also focus on meeting supplementary needs through community partnerships with numerous other local non-profit organizations.
For the past three years, TSCT has coordinated three highly successful, short-term training programs: Production Welding, Commercial and Industrial, and Facilities Maintenance. In the past two years, 52 adults received tuition-free training in Facilities Maintenance, and nearly all of them are now working full-time for dozens of employers in the field.
This would not have been possible without the continued support of organizations like the PNC Foundation that committed to investing in communities like ours. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities that PNC has created and will continue to create for our students and their families, and I’m inspired by the ways in which this funding will impact and positively change lives in our community for years to come.
I look forward to sharing our students’ success stories in the future.
- Pedro Rivera, President of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology