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TWC grants totaling $655,000 to assist region's residents with high school completion, career preparation

Article by: Melinda Eddleman

During a joint announcement June 27, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and Del Mar College (DMC) shared the opportunity for Coastal Bend residents to complete their high school equivalency and simultaneously earn credits or a credential in one of several career-focused programs offered by the College. The initiative is possible thanks to two grants awarded to the DMC Continuing Education and Off-Campus Programs Division.

TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez III presented two checks –– $155,000 for the Ability to Benefit Education and Training Grant and $500,000 for the Accelerate Texas IV Education and Training Grant –– to assist individuals with improving their lives through education and workforce training.

“What we do here at Del Mar College, along with other community colleges in the state, we’re not focusing on putting individuals to jobs, we want to lead these people to careers,” Alvarez said during the announcement. “Everyone that graduates from this institution with an industry-recognized certification or an associate degree, we’re challenging them to achieve careers.”

Alvarez noted that the state’s unemployment rate as of June 21 was 3.5 percent, the lowest rate since 1976 when data collection first began. He also pointed out that 14 million Texas residents currently make up the state’s workforce.

“Del Mar College thanks the Texas Workforce Commission for giving Coastal Bend residents the opportunity to build a better life for themselves and their families while moving our regional economy toward an even more prosperous future as the College implements these two grants,” said Lenora Keas, the College’s vice president of Workforce Development and Strategic Initiatives. “We want to move people toward college, transition them into careers and help them achieve their dreams, regardless of any obstacles they may face.”

View highlights from the announcement, including remrks by DMC administrators, Alvarez, Texas State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa and Nueces County Commissioner Joe A. Gonzalez:


With the area’s economic growth, career-focused employment is still plentiful in the region; and, Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend identified high-demand fields in three sectors––business, health and industrial––that the grants cover. The list includes Accounting; Avionics Line Maintenance Technician; Bookkeeping; Certified Nurse Aide; Diesel Specialist (Engine and Systems); Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC); Heavy Equipment Specialist; Industrial Instrumentation Installer; Information Reporting/Scoping; Millwright; Non-structural Collision Repair; Office Assistant; Peace Officer (Basic and Intermediate); Process Technology Technician; Suspension, Driveline, and Brake Specialist; and Welding (Wire and Industry).

Grant funds provide participants access to completing Adult Education courses through the Education Service Center, Region 2, to finish their high school equivalency while earningcredits or a credential in one of the several fields covered by the grants. Individuals must co-enroll in both the Adult Education courses and a DMC career-focused program to participate, and funds will cover qualified individuals’ tuition, books, lab fees, supplies, certification exams and more.

Combined, the two grants will target at least 300 people.

To acquire more details about the initiative and to register, call Continuing Education at 361-698-2122

Through the Accelerate Texas IV Education and Training Grant, DMC staff will work with community agencies and organizations to refer individuals participating in the grant.

The Ability to Benefit Education and Trainng Grant accelerates individuals’ access to federal student aid, such as the Pell Grant, where students must have their high school equivalency and a record of success completing six or more college credit hours to qualify. The grant builds on their ability to qualify for financial aid.

“Potentially, individuals who successfully complete six hours can qualify for at least $6,000 or more of federal financial aid in one year, which can pay for fall, spring and summer courses,” noted Leonard Rivera, Ph.D., dean of Continuing Education and Off-Campus Programs. “And, they can take any program of study the College offers under this grant.”

Zada Burleson, age 17 and Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) Program completer, was able to accomplish one of her goals through the Ability to Benefit grant in preparing for further studies at Del Mar. The recent Banquete High School graduate finished the CNA Program, along with Continuing Education’s Phlebotomy and Electrocardiogram Programs, and will continue her journey in the health care sector this fall as she works toward entering the College’s Nurse Education Program.

“My dream is to be a surgeon someday,” Burleson said during the announcement. “This opportunity was a good way to get a head start on the basics I need to further my education and lifelong goal.”

Of the two grants, Rivera added, “Our commitment to our residents involves partnerships that focus on giving them the opportunity to become marketable within our workforce, and we want to continue building a workforce that exemplifies the knowledge and skills needed to keep our region competitive and our economy robust.”


About Del Mar College

Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.