February 27, 2019

Nonprofits, colleges share $1M grants for workforce development

HBJ File Photo
HBJ File Photo

Several nonprofits and state colleges are splitting more than $1 million in grants from a quasi-public funder to spur workforce development in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA), an agency that lends tax-exempt capital to nonprofits, on Wednesday awarded several grants aimed at expanding science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programming and job training in the state.

CHEFA officials were joined Wednesday at the Legislative Office Building by State Treasurer Shawn Wooden and other state lawmakers to recognize the recipients.

The two largest contributions of $500,000 and $250,000 were gifted to the Workforce Development Council (WDC) and the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT), respectively.

WDC will use the funds to upskill "hard-to-employ individuals," case management and support services, according to CHEFA.

East Hartford-based CCAT, meantime, is leveraging the grant to expand middle and high school STEM curriculum at school systems in New London and Bridgeport. CHEFA said it will work with the schools to develop and implement the new STEM programing over the next two years.

Also, more than $320,000 in grants were shared between three public and two private colleges and universities to support STEM education and careers. The schools include: Central Connecticut State University, Capital Community College, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Sacred Heart University and the University of St. Joseph.

Advanced manufacturing and health care are Connecticut's fastest-growing workforce sectors, according to CHEFA Executive Director Jeanette Weldon, who said there are 13,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs in the state.

Founded in 2002, CHEFA has provided more than $30 million in funding for educational, health, cultural and childcare services across the state.

Connecticut's efforts to fill workforce gaps in manufacturing also received a shot in the arm about two weeks ago, when the state's public college and university system rolled out a new advanced manufacturing program focused on filling up to 35,000 industry jobs over the next two decades.

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HBJ Special Report: Building Connecticut's workforce pipeline

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