WATERTOWN N.Y. (WWTI) – Jefferson Community College is one of 12 SUNY community colleges to be awarded a $5 million Strengthening Community Colleges Training grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The grant is awarded to increase the number of marginalized and underrepresented students entering and completing health science programs, according to a press release from Jefferson Community College.

JCC’s portion of the award is a total of $300,000 spread over four years to support JCC’s “Education to Employment” initiative, created to expand direct health programs to meet student and employer demand.

“As a consortium of twelve SUNY community colleges, the impact of this award will be far-reaching in our ability to create pathways to careers that pay a living wage for underserved individuals, ultimately strengthening the healthcare workforce across the entire state,” Dr. Daniel J. Dupee, II, Administrator-In-Charge said.

College graduates earn nearly twice as much when compared to those with only high school diplomas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, emphasizing the economic disparity for those without access to quality career and technical education programs and other forms of education.

“Funding awards will connect people – particularly those from marginalized and underrepresented communities – with the education and training they need for good-paying jobs,” Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said. “These grants are designed to empower community colleges to ensure their curriculum meets the needs of employers in their communities and equips workers with valuable skills.”

The grant will provide academic support and assistance for anatomy and physiology-based course redesign work at JCC, a mobile augmented reality laptop cart and the development of additional health science curriculum and programming. The funding comes after COVID-19 created a public health crisis and disrupted regional and state economies.

“As Jefferson continues to help the North Country build back post-COVID and meet the evolving needs of the community, we are honored to be among the SUNY community colleges selected for this award,” said Dr. Scott D. Schaeffer, Associate Vice President for STEM and Health Professions at JCC.