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TCC receives grant to help food stamp recipients find employment

Tidewater Community College will receive $2.1 million of a $22.3 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a pilot program to help increase job skills training for some participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

SNAP, which helps low-income people have access to nutritious foods, is the acronym for the program popularly known as food stamps.

The grant will allow 3,760 Virginia recipients to receive job training assistance over a three-year period. Thirty-five states applied for the $200 million grant, which is part of a wide-ranging farm bill that became law in 2014. Ten states were selected to receive funds.

“I’m proud that Virginia has received this grant award, which will allow my administration to help transition SNAP recipients to the workforce and improve workforce development training,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “It’s essential that Virginians be trained and ready to enter in-demand fields.”

The pilot program will have a three-pronged approach – a hybrid online learning lab with instructor-led workshops; job readiness and training leading to a certificate or certification; and a longer term education and training program – to assist SNAP recipients who are not college-ready. To receive job skills training, recipients must be enrolled in the SNAP-Employment and Training Program.

The job readiness and training portion of the grant is modeled after TCC’s Job Skills Training Program (JSTP), which provides a comprehensive approach to job skills training and job placement for individuals facing multiple barriers to employment.

“Helping people find and gain meaningful employment that will make them and, in turn, their families self-sufficient is central to our mission at TCC,” said President Edna Baehre-Kolovani. “In addition, Virginia Department of Social Services
strengthening programs like SNAP and tying them to economic success significantly impact our state’s economy. This grant will allow us to make a lasting difference in the lives of people who need assistance to move forward.”

Leslie Boughton, interim vice president for TCC’S Center for Workforce Solutions, initiated the JSTP in 1995. “I’m so excited that we’re serving a population that doesn’t have the resources for a better future,” she said.

The JSTP received a 2012 Exemplary Program Award from the National Council for Continuing Education & Training, which recognizes sustainable, innovative and replicable programs that impact a college’s community.

The grant is a result of a partnership between Virginia’s Community Colleges and the Virginia Department of Social Services. TCC is one of seven Virginia community colleges to receive a portion of the grant. The others are Danville, Patrick Henry, Piedmont, Southside Virginia, Thomas Nelson and Virginia Highlands.