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State announces investments in area colleges, universities

by Ryan Pivoney | December 10, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

Missouri is infusing $20 million into public and private higher education projects to boost workforce innovation.

Gov. Mike Parson announced the grant awards, going to 17 private institutions and six public ones, on Thursday. State Technical College of Missouri is receiving $2 million, Westminster College is getting nearly $500,000 and William Woods University more than $258,000.

"These funds are yet another opportunity to help keep our economy moving forward," the governor said in a news release Thursday. "These grants will allow Missouri colleges and universities to expand our workforce, particularly in entrepreneurship and other careers where we are seeing growth. In addition, the innovative work of these schools will not only educate more agricultural experts but will help us address the needs of Missouri's number one economic driver."

The state is funding the grants with money it received from the American Rescue Plan Act signed into law by President Joe Biden last year.

The grants, administered by the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, are intended to address negative economic impacts the COVID-19 pandemic had on agriculture and supply chains by supporting "high-demand career training for new and underrepresented populations," according to the governor's news release.

A total of $10 million is going to private institutions to serve a variety of needs and another $10 million is going to public institutions to address agriculture innovation and workforce development.

State Tech was one of six public institutions to receive a grant and one of four to receive $2 million, the maximum amount allowed under the program.

The technical college, located in Linn, will use the funds for the first phase of an agriculture technology center and demonstration farm.

Other public colleges may be spending the grants on outreach and recruitment efforts, professional development, construction projects, equipment and curriculum development.

Funds for the private colleges and universities can be used in the same areas, as well as student support services.

William Woods, in Fulton, is using its $258,273.36 appropriation on Project CLEAR (Creating Leadership, Entrepreneurship Action and Response).

Westminster College, also in Fulton, is using its $499,822 to ramp up online offerings.

"The results produced by these grants will provide excellent opportunities for students across Missouri who are pursuing postsecondary education in a variety of high demand fields," Interim MDHEWD Commissioner Leroy Wade said in the news release.

"This will also be another step in helping our department achieve its goal of Missouri being the best in the Midwest in educational attainment and workforce participation by 2030, as well as its goals for equity in education."

The grants for both private and public institutions require a dollar-for-dollar match.

Private institutions were capped at requesting $1 million and public institutions couldn't request more than $2 million.

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