Northark receives continuation grant of nearly $1 million

Wed Jun 20, 2018 at 09:41 AM

North Arkansas College has announced it will receive nearly $1M from a Regional Workforce Continuation Grant. Funds will be awarded monthly over the next two years. The college was a recipient of the first $1M in 2016. 

Northark was awarded $995,308, 100 percent of the funds requested. That’s because the results of objectives are impressive. Since 2016, Northark has substantially increased the interest and credentials in the pool of skilled workers entering emerging healthcare and manufacturing jobs.

Most notably, Northark has increased interaction with K-12 students by encouraging them to attend college or enter technical careers in manufacturing and healthcare. Northark provided camps, industry tours and manufacturing and health career day events for students. Attendance at these events increased a whopping 714 percent from 2015-16 to 2016-17. During the second year of the grant cycle, attendance climbed even higher with 7 percent more students at events.

“The exceptional results produced over the last two years are evidence that our efforts make a significant impact on workforce needs in our region and state,” Dr. Randy Esters, Northark President commented. He added, “We’re looking forward to building upon our momentum with this grant to offer innovative educational opportunities that are affordable. The additional funds will allow expansion into surrounding areas with online delivery and increased resources to reduce the skills gap even further.”

Funds are earmarked for marketing the programs to prospective students and partners, purchasing equipment, expanding current programs for online delivery and for paying salaries. Equipment to be purchased includes new welders for the new Lincoln Welding Training Center to be located near the current welding lab, and medical assisting and distance learning equipment for the Berryville Carroll County Center location. Paid internship opportunities and apprenticeship programs will be funded through the grant. Prior Learning Assessment is also included, with funds available for consultation and development of a comprehensive prior learning assessment mechanism for awarding college credit for qualified formal training and/or work experience.

Other improvements include adding Biomedical Electronics Technician and Medical Laboratory Technician programs to online offerings. MLT clinical internship assignments and Biomedical Electronics Technicians internships can be completed in students’ hometowns.

Robotic welding training will be added into the welding curriculum with plans for Northark to become a Certified Lincoln Electric Authorized Training Facility.

The Northark grant-writing team consisted of Melissa Bray, Nell Bonds, Joe Berry, Cindy Mayo, Dr. Randy Esters, Dr. Donna Wood and Scott Howie. Northark would like to extend a special thank you to their community partners who have collaborated on this multi-year process to fill the workforce gap and the college looks forward to continued success with the grant proceeds.

North Arkansas College is committed to providing an educational and work environment for its students, faculty, and staff that is free from sexual discrimination including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence. No form of sexual discrimination will be tolerated. See the full North Arkansas College Title IX Policy and Procedures for the specific definitions of sexual harassment and sexual violence, including examples of such conduct.