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Full or partial funding available for workforce training

RESERVE —Affordable education and a lucrative career are well within reach thanks to a partnership between River Parishes Community College and the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

Tommy Scott III, executive director of the LA Workforce Commission’s River Parishes Business and Career Solutions Center, urges locals to take advantage of tuition assistance for programs at the RPCC Reserve campus.

Partial or full funding is available for the following programs: HVAC, industrial maintenance, instrumentation, electrical helper, process technology, medical assistant and practical nursing.

Funding is income-based. To qualify, individuals must be either unemployed or underemployed (within 200% of the National Poverty guidelines).

“We try to look at everything on a case-by-case basis. We provide assistance for programs, but it does depend on the duration of the program. If it’s longer than a year, we ask for the student to fund the first half of their curriculum,” Scott said.

“The only reason we do that is that we would like our students to have some skin in the game on the longer programs. We would hate for somebody to start and then quit and not really worry about it because they didn’t come out of pocket for anything, so we want them to kind of invest in themselves upfront, and then we’ll assist on the second half for the longer programs.”

The LA Workforce Commission generally provides financial assistance up front for short-term programs lasting one year or less.

LA Workforce Commission and RPCC recently partnered to offer tuition-free Commercial Driver’s License courses. The program received such an overwhelming response that the application process for that course is currently paused.

“We will eventually accept more applications for CDL, but for now we want to open our assistance to individuals pursuing other areas,” Scott said. “We really want to implore St. John residents to take advantage of this phenomenal resource that is practically in their backyard.”
While St. Charles Parish just opened a River Parish Community College location for the Spring 2021 semester, St. John Parish has had the Reserve campus for years.

“We need to stop stigmatizing people who don’t attend four-year universities as failures because that is completely false,” Scott said.

“You can go to those community colleges and learn a trade and receive apprenticeship and internship opportunities and get hired before your graduation date. Not only can you get a stellar education and an impeccable certification, but also a lucrative career opportunity all before you leave that campus. We just need residents to take advantage of it so we can help those individuals really set themselves on a positive track in life.”

Program applications can be completed at the front desk of the RPCC campus located at 181 REGALA Park Road in Reserve. Prospective students should bring an ID, social security card and birth certificate.

Monica Morrison, associate vice chancellor of student services, said the partnership between the college and LA Workforce Commission is a step toward local families achieving success and financial stability.

“Since the LWC office in LaPlace was closed, it was creating some barriers for potential applicants to complete that process. Mr. Scott reached out to the Reserve campus to see if we were willing to be a point of intake for those applications. Of course, we were. We are always working to support the communities in our River Region area,” Morrison said.

She added, “Maintaining strong community collaboration is the bedrock for creating better alignment of resources, decreased barriers to access, and increased awareness and capture of local opportunities. Our partnership with LWC has accomplished that with the recent CDL training promotion. RPCC Reserve campus will continue to support the River Region community, in the absence of a local LWC office in St. John Parish, by intaking WIOA applications for a variety of technical programs offered at our location.”

For more information, please visit rpcc.edu or stop by to meet with an advisor. Advisors are back on campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for in-person visits.

“We are still offering virtual advising, and we continue to offer a mix of face-to-face, hybrid and online classes, synchronous and asynchronous,” Morrison said.

Scott said a phenomenal advisory council makes the partnership between RPCC and LA Workforce Commission possible. The Executive Committee for the River Parishes Workforce Development Board is led by Katie Klibert with RTC, Tricia Thompson with Denka Performance Elastomer and St. John Economic Development Director Stanley Bienemy. St. Charles Parish CAO Mike Palamone has also been active in the resurgence of the local workforce climate.