With $51K, Oberlin, LCCC launch pilot for job training
20 Sep 2022 — The Chronicle
Jason Hawk The Chronicle-Telegram

OBERLIN - Forget loans. City Council wants to send Oberlin residents to college at no cost at all.

In an emergency vote Monday, it set aside $51,000 of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to help pay tuition and fees for the FastTrack program at Lorain County Community College.

The 16- and 32-week courses award industry credentials, preparing students for in-demand jobs, said Cindy Kushner, LCCC's director of school and community partnerships.

The program is "very attractive for adults who could not imagine going to college for two years or three years or even a whole year," she said.

Employers help design the programs. Popular courses include medical coding, emergency medical technician training, networking and computer programming, while others range from accounting to robotics.

The majority of students who enroll are 24 to 35 years old women from Lorain and Elyria, and Black and Latino residents are strongly represented, Kushner said.

Oberlin Councilman Ray English stressed that the taxpayer dollars approved Monday will allow residents with financial need to attend at no cost.

Kushner said the ARPA funding could pay for 50 residents to receive a $1,000 gap scholarship each.

The money will be used as "last-dollar" funding, meaning LCCC will tap other sources of funding such as Ohio Means Jobs or state tax credits before using Oberlin's ARPA funds, she said.

FastTrack is a way for students to get a foot in the door of an industry and begin on a path of advancement, she said.

Some courses are offered completely online; others are in-person or a hybrid, she said. Most don't require all-day attendance, just a couple of days a week.

Some training is offered at the LCCC Wellington Center or the Lorain County JVS.

Kushner said many of the employers LCCC partners with are transitioning to work-from-home models, an arrangement she feels may be attractive to people in rural parts of Lorain County.

Once students are through the first semester, the college will work help them prepare resumes and practice for interviews. Kushner said the goal is to help them land jobs so they can earn while continuing to learn.

Oberlin put forward its funding as part of its goal to improve social equity, leveling the playing field for residents from all walks of life.

The tuition assistance is being offered as part of a one-year pilot program that Council President Bryan Burgess said he hopes will prove effective and be renewed for years to come.

The emergency vote was cast to meet registration deadlines, he said. The FastTrack program is set to begin Oct. 30, and LCCC needs time to recruit students.

Jason Hawk can be reached at (440) 329-7122 or news@lcnewspapers.com.

This story is provided free courtesy of The Chronicle.
"With $51K, Oberlin, LCCC launch pilot for job training" The Chronicle 20 Sep 2022: A1