State’s community colleges rolling out $10.5M workforce program

Baton Rouge Community College (File photo)

More than 2,000 people have sought grants to pursue training for high-demand jobs since a new state program began taking applications in March, says Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. 

Louisiana lawmakers dedicated $10.5 million to the M.J. Foster Promise Award program, which is meant to help low-income state residents who are at least 21 years old pay tuition and fees at two-year postsecondary schools or approved proprietary schools. The grants, in most cases limited to $3,200 per year and $6,400 over three years, can be used to pursue an associate degree or a job certification that can be earned more quickly. 

“Adults are showing up at our colleges, and they’re saying to us, ‘I don’t have two years,’” Sullivan told the Baton Rouge Press Club today. 

The program is limited to five high-demand subject areas:

  • Construction;
  • Health care and social assistance;
  • Information technology;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Transportation, warehousing and logistics.

More than 1.1 million of Louisiana’s working-age residents have only a high school diploma or less, which limits their earning potential, Sullivan says. To qualify for a promise award, applicants must have been unemployed or underemployed during the prior six months or have family income that is no more than 300% of the federal poverty level. They must also have a high school diploma or GED—or enroll in a GED program—but not a college degree, among other qualifications.