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Second Round of Tobacco Trust Funding Helping Prepare Students for New Careers

PCC's Greenville Center on Memorial Drive is home to many of the college's continuing education programs.

GREENVILLE—Pitt Community College has once again received grant funding from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission to help continuing education students ‘skill-up’ for new careers.

After receiving $20,000 from the Tobacco Trust in early 2011, PCC received another $10,000 in September to provide assistance to students pursuing ‘fast-track career pathways’ through continuing education. Dr. David Lusk, Pitt’s Continuing Education dean, said the college matched the second grant with $10,000 from self-support revenue.

Lusk said PCC had already served 30 students through the second round of Project Skill-Up grant funding. He said the college had provided training to students in a number of programs, including Certified Nursing Assistant, Emergency Medicine, Chiropractic Assistant, Professional Fire Fighting, EKG Monitor Technician and Pharmacy Technician.

In 2011, the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund awarded the N.C. Community College System a $750,000-grant to establish Project Skill-Up. The workforce development initiative was created to help those affected by changes in the tobacco industry update job skills and learn new marketable skills reflective of fast-growing occupations and/or new industries within their communities.

Project Skill-UP features three core components: skills assessment, occupational skills training and tuition assistance.

PCC provided tuition to 85 continuing education students through the initial grant funding it received in 2011. Those students pursued a wide range of training options – from barber college to a variety of health care programs.

Lusk said students receiving Project Skill-Up funding must complete an application and meet several requirements, including unemployment or underemployment and demonstration of being adversely affected by tobacco industry changes. He added that students are also required to take Career Readiness Certificate testing in order to determine their workplace skills.

The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission was created to implement a state statute established to assist tobacco farmers, tobacco quota holders, people engaged in tobacco-related business, individuals displaced from tobacco-related employment, and tobacco-product component programs by funding programs that support, foster and facilitate a strong agricultural economy in North Carolina.