Wallace State receives $1.5M U.S. Dept. of Labor award

Photo from WSCC

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – The U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday announced an award of $1.5 million to Wallace State Community College, part of $29 million in grants awarded to 27 recipients through the Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities (WORC) program, in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Delta Regional Authority (DRA).

These funds will support the development of the Wallace State Diesel by Distance program and virtual reality programming that will allow students to complete a degree and training in diesel technology partially online and virtually with minimal time on campus, conveniently scheduled for working adults, including weekends and evenings.  

“Wallace State is extremely honored to have been selected for this highly competitive award and the longstanding support we have received from ARC. These funds will assist us in expanding access to high demand careers through innovation,” said Dr. Vicki Karolewics, president of Wallace State Community College. “Our Diesel program is one of our most sought after programs with an outstanding reputation among employers and for student success.”

In addition to giving students the flexibility to learn the program’s course objectives and theory online, with virtual reality labs and periodic competency demonstrations, one of the main components of the Diesel by Distance program is the work-based learning experience in partnership with an employer of diesel technicians. While enrolled in the Diesel by Distance program, students must be employed and engaged in work-based learning through an industry recognized or registered apprenticeship program in partnership with a participating company.

Individuals enrolled in Wallace State’s Diesel Technology program can earn an associate in applied science in the field or pursue multiple certificates, including those in preventative maintenance, diesel engine specialist, transportation trailer technology and heavy utility vehicle specialist. Similarly, students enrolled in the Diesel by Distance program can choose any of the degree or certificate components or a specific class they’re interested in. The Diesel by Distance program has also received praise from the Alabama Trucking Association.

WORC grants enable communities within the Appalachian and Delta regions that have been hard-hit by economic transition and recovering slowly to develop local and regional workforce development solutions that align with economic development strategies. Grant recipients will work with industry and community partners to promote new, sustainable job opportunities and long-term economic vitality through grant activities that address the specific needs of businesses and workers in their communities.

“The WORC Initiative encourages grantees to use innovative, regional approaches that leverage local partnerships and resources to build a strong foundation for long-term economic success in the area,” said Assistant Secretary John Pallasch. “We look forward to working with ARC and DRA to ensure that the training delivered through these grants better positions jobseekers to fill the unmet skill needs of local employers, so that workers and businesses can thrive in their communities.”  

“For rural communities to be competitive today, we must ensure that economic development and skills development go hand in hand,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Caldwell. “Through the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities initiative, the Delta Regional Authority enables Delta communities to strengthen workforce pipelines and continue upward economic mobility. Thanks to the vision of Senator Blunt and leadership of President Trump and Secretary Scalia, the WORC Initiative will provide critical investments into innovative, industry-driven workforce training across the Delta.”

“Appalachian rural communities must continue to develop a skilled and ready workforce in order to compete, especially those in economically distressed areas,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “The WORC Initiative is an innovative partnership creating opportunity for rural workforce development and is indicative of President Trump’s commitment to this goal.”

On April 29, 2020, ETA, ARC and DRA announced the availability of these funds, the second round of grants the agencies have offered. Since its inception, the WORC initiative has aimed to create economic prosperity and gainful employment opportunities for residents in the Appalachian and Delta regions, enabling them to remain and thrive in these communities. In 2019, the agencies partnered to award $29 million in WORC grants to 18 organizations.

The Employment and Training Administration administers Federal government job training and dislocated worker programs, federal grants to states for public employment service programs, and unemployment insurance benefits. These services are primarily provided through state and local workforce development systems.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

A list of all ARC and DRA grant recipients follows:

ARC Awards

Recipient State Award
Appalachian Sustainable Development VA $853,456
Big Sandy Community and Technical College/KCTCS KY $1,500,000
Blue Ridge Community and Technical College WV $753,104
County of Tazewell, Virginia VA $1,443,900
First Tennessee Development District TN $1,278,418
Maysville Community and Technical College KY $401,910*
Northeast Georgia Regional Commission GA $618,909*
Save the Children Federation, Inc. CT $618,909*
Total Action Against Poverty in the Roanoke Valley VA $1,337,918
University of North Georgia GA $1,450,719
University of Pittsburgh PA $1,150,631
Wallace State Community College AL $1,500,000
Williamson Health and Wellness Center WV $1,352,129
Workforce Wayne, Inc. dba Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance PA $327,497
Total   $14,587,500

* These three applicants received the same final score, and were the lowest scoring selected ARC applicants; therefore, each will receive the award amount shown, which was reduced proportionate to their request, in order to adhere to the amount of funds available for ARC awards ($14,587,500).

DRA Awards

Recipient State Award
Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation MO $1,209,301
Delta Health Alliance, Inc. MS $1,499,667
Lurleen B. Wallace Community College AL $1,495,819
Management, Training and Consulting Corporation IL $1,191,187
Marquette Tech District Foundation, Inc. MO $1,364,200
McNeese State University LA $1,458,203
Missouri State University MO $960,000*
NextOp, Inc. LA $630,000*
Ozarka College AR $1,472,857
Southern Arkansas University Tech AR $940,569
University of Louisiana Monroe LA $1,074,510
University of Memphis TN $1,013,896*
West Kentucky Community and Technical College KY $277,291
Total   $14,587,500

* These three applicants received the same final score, and were the lowest scoring selected DRA applicants; therefore, each will receive the award amount shown, which was reduced proportionate to their request, in order to adhere to the amount of funds available for DRA awards ($14,587,500).