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Commissioner Staples awards $552,400 in grants to create new pathways to the workforce

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Pilot program paves way for career training for high school students

AUSTIN —Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced today the Texas Department of Agriculture has approved $552,400 for the Parallel Pathways to Success Pilot Grant Program. The initiative is designed to provide eligible high schools, institutions of higher learning and other similar organizations with funding to give rural Texas students the opportunity to acquire workforce skills and training, and earn college credit prior to graduation.

“Last year more than half of the jobs created in the U.S. were in Texas, proving that demand for skilled workers in the Lone Star State is growing,” Commissioner Staples said. “Unfortunately, our supply of trained workers is not keeping up with the demand, and if employers do not have a skilled workforce, we risk the chance of them leaving the state. That’s a risk I’m not willing to take. Our new grant program will assist us in keeping businesses in Texas by funding initiatives that give students the necessary training to secure a job.”

Knox City High School’s Yes! You Can! Program is receiving $152,400 to offer certificate, associate and pre-bachelor degree coursework aligned with employer needs and emerging job opportunities in the region.

“Knox City High School is very grateful to have been awarded the Parallel Pathways grant,” said Rick Moeller, principal of Knox City High School. “Even though we are 80 miles from the nearest college, the use of technology and the Parallel Pathways grant will allow willing students to take college classes and receive necessary training for their future. Our goal is to make higher learning and skills training available for every student in Knox County.”

Additionally, TDA is awarding grants of $100,000 each to the following programs:

Liberty County Workforce Academy – The Liberty County Workforce Academy was established to provide workforce skills and training to high school students who traditionally have not considered college an option. The program is a partnership between high schools and community colleges to offer dual credit courses that lead to a workforce certificate or toward an associate degree.

South Texas College, Starr County – Dual Enrollment Medical Science
Academy – This program gives students the opportunity to earn an Associate of Science degree in biology before the end of their senior year in high school.

University of Texas-Pan American START Project – This program offers 60 high-achieving students the opportunity to earn both high school and college credit.

Lampasas Economic Development Corporation – The Lampasas Economic Development Corporation will use its award to provide convenient access to degree, certificate and workforce programs.

In total, five proposals ranked in the scoring process to receive funding through the TDA Parallel Pathways to Success Pilot Grant Program. For more information about the program, visit TDA’s Web site at www.TexasAgriculture.gov.


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