PARKERSBURG — The largest grant West Virginia University at Parkersburg has ever received is intended to keep students, particularly those in nursing programs, on track to graduate.
“It’s a strictly community college grant … and we were the largest one awarded in the nation for this round,” Interim WVU-P President Torie Jackson said.
WVU-P is the lead entity on the $6,488,966 Strengthening Community Colleges grant from the US Department of Labor but not the only beneficiary.
WVU-P will receive $2.3 million to extend for four years its Ascend program, which provides direct advising to students, along with tutoring and, when financial aid allows, support like gas cards.
“What that does is allows us to keep them on track for graduation,” Jackson said.
Ascend is a school-wide initiative, but there will be special emphasis placed on nursing. A portion of the funds will allow WVU-P to hire a faculty member in an effort to increase the number of nursing students, Jackson said.
“There’s a need for nurses in our area, and all of ours who graduate and want to be employed in the industry are able to find a job immediately,” she said.
The grant will also provide $1.3 million each to BridgeValley Community and Technical College in South Charleston and Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College in Williamson. That will allow them to start their own Ascend programs focused on nursing, Jackson said.
The remainder of the grant is for an evaluation component expected to be done by an external researcher to track the program and assess which approaches help students stay in college, Jackson said.
The grant was announced jointly by US Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin.
“It’s great to see DOL support initiatives important to our state, and I look forward to the impact this will create,” said Capito, RW.Va., in a news release.
“I am pleased the Department of Labor is investing more than $6.4 million in West Virginia University at Parkersburg to help expand their career and technical education programs and ensure every student has the skills they need to succeed in good-paying, long-term jobs, ” Manchin, DW.Va., said in the release.
Evan Bevins can be reached at [email protected]