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South Georgia Tech receives $3 M competitive grant from U.S. DOE

AMERICUS — South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) has been awarded a $3 million competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help improve educational outcomes, assist with academic acceleration and completion, and increase African-American males’ participation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational programs.
The five-year, $3 million grant was submitted by the SGTC Resource Development/Marketing/Foundation office and will result in $600,000 to the college each year for the next five years. SGTC was one of only 23 colleges in the United States to receive this grant.
“We are very pleased to have been awarded this competitive grant,” said SGTC Acting President Janice Davis. “This is the third U.S. Department of Education grant that South Georgia Tech has received over the past four years and these federal grant funds are making a difference in the overall student success initiatives for the college.”
John Watford, Ed.D., SGTC vice president for Academic Affairs, said, “This is a tremendous opportunity for us to promote the various STEM or science, technology, engineering, and math programs here at South Georgia Technical College as well as expand our presence in the high schools. The grant resources will allow the college to offer additional services to students who may be first generation college students and provide more assistance to those students needing to refresh or build upon the basic skills they currently have in order to be successful in their college level course work.”
The U.S. Department of Education grant submission known as the “ACE – Academic Completion Enhancement” project will allow the college to hire five full-time positions to enhance the admissions/retention process by adding a High School Initiative specialist, a Financial Aid specialist, two Admissions/Retention counselors, and a grant coordinator to help oversee the grant.  The college will also be able to hire two part-time tutors to assist students who need additional assistance.
In addition to those seven positions, which will be funded for five years, SGTC will be able to improve educational outcomes by promoting the state’s new “Move On When Ready” opportunities to African-American males in grades 9-12 that will allow them to enroll in postsecondary programs for free while obtaining a high school diploma. The grant is also designed to inform and ignite interest in African-American males to encourage enrollment in STEM related programs and expand awareness of career opportunities available in those fields.
Funding from the grant will assist with South Georgia Technical College’s SACSCOC reaffirmation Quality Enhancement Plan which is the “READ or Reaching Every Academic Dream” initiative. SGTC will purchase periodicals, educational resources, tools and subscriptions to encourage students to become more effective readers by developing stronger reading skills. The READ initiative is also designed to encourage students to become more engaged in their programs of study and help students develop a desire to read.
Other items included in the grant funding are Summer Bridge Camps for African-American males, professional development training for high school faculty and staff to educate them on the STEM opportunities available for students at SGTC, and professional development speakers for students and faculty to ignite and encourage interest in STEM related programs and careers. Grant funds also will be used by the college to cover printing and dissemination costs for the ACE program material, Achieving the Dream leader college fees and evaluator and evaluation funding.
With changes to the HOPE Grant and HOPE Scholarship programs and cuts to the state budget, SGTC has been looking at additional funding opportunities to help students become more successful in their educational endeavors. The Department of Education Title III competitive grant will allow SGTC to improve the academic success of an at-risk population.
“Like most federal grants, this program is aimed at improving services and developing new ones to benefit our students,” said Acting President Davis. “These funds cannot be used to support normal college operations, but it will allow us to expand our STEM participation for African-American males, provide learning support assistance and put more emphasis on helping students enroll in college and remain in school until graduation.”
The SGTC Foundation will be providing some matching funding for these initiatives through its 2015 TechForce fund drive, which is currently underway.
“We appreciate the South Georgia Technical College Foundation for its support of our initiatives,” said Davis.  “Through the Foundation’s financial support we are able to maximize local, state, and federal funding opportunities to help enrich our students as well as the communities that we serve.”