Izard County Consolidated High School was recently awarded a grant of $49,193.75 for digital communications from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Education (DWE).
DWE awarded 86 grants to 74 schools in the state. The total amount of all the grants awarded is about $3 million.
According to ICC Elementary Principal John Walker, who wrote the grant, the money will be used to expand the business program that ties in with multimedia education. "Kids are getting more into publishing with all of their school projects," Walker said.
He said at first, the school started the project on its own using school funds, then, as the project expanded and more students got involved, the school applied for the grant. "Starting out on our own helped us get more points towards getting the grant because we showed more determination in getting the program," Walker said.
"It's probably the most popular class," Walker said. He said the program can help students find jobs more easily once they graduate because employers won't have to spend extra money to train them. "When they (students) try to find jobs, they can get certified (in the program) and won't need the training for the job," Walker said.
According to the DWE, the department annually awards grants to schools to start up career and technical education (CTE) programs, so students can get the upper hand when it comes to being hired to a job or accepted into college. "Grant applications are competitively graded upon, among other things: program goals, student benefits, employment opportunities, school facilities and course demand," according to the DWE.
"The funding provided through this effort will assist career and technical education programs in helping students achieve the skills they need to be successful in further post-secondary training or in future careers," DWE Career and Technical Education Division Associate Director Roderic Duckworth said.
"The agency had two main priorities when filling these grant requests," according to the department. "The first of these included funding new jobs for Arkansas' graduates (JAG) programs at alternative learning environments in order to emphasize career and technical components for special populations. JAG is a school-to-career program meant to keep young people in school through graduation and provide work-based learning experiences that will lead to career advancement opportunities or enrollment in a post-secondary institution that leads to a rewarding career. Twenty-nine JAG programs were funded through these new start-up grants."
Other grants were also awarded to fund science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) based courses. According to the DWE, these courses include studies on renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, aviation installation and modification and natural resource and environmental service systems.
"Students will find that the careers they train for in the STEM programs of study have a high growth potential and will be in high demand," DWE Career and Technical Education Division Deputy Director John Davidson said. "We really believe, through STEM training, students will be easily able to find employment in this time of economic difficulty."
"Gov. Mike Beebe has been quoted as saying that we live in a world where we compete not only with our neighboring states for the best jobs, but also with countries overseas, and if we want to survive in the global marketplace, we must be fully prepared to fill the jobs of the 21st century," DWE Director William L. "Bill" Walker Jr. said. "The only way for our state to remain competitive is to ensure that more Arkansans have a better education for a better quality of life."