Gov. Robert Bentley has announced $370,000 in grants to equip students in two northeast Alabama counties with the tools and training for future career success.
The grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission will purchase new computers for the DeKalb County school system and Fort Payne High School and enable the Cherokee County school system to offer a new career training course for students.
The Cherokee County school system is using a $70,000 grant to fund a training program that will certify 15 students per semester in robotic welding, a skill valued by manufacturers. The training will help them qualify for in-demand jobs in the area’s automated manufacturing plants. Local funds of $30,000 are supplementing the grant.
“By giving students access to essential tools and helping them learn valuable skills, we are preparing them for success in the 21st Century economy,” Bentley said. “These grants will enable these school systems to provide better opportunities for students and prepare them for the jobs of the future.”
The Fort Payne school system is using a $150,000 grant to purchase Dell Chromebooks for students at Fort Payne High School. The iPads currently used at the high school will be transferred to Fort Payne Elementary School, giving every student access to portable digital technology. The school system is contributing $194,000 toward the project.
The DeKalb County school system is using a $150,000 grant to purchase new computers for each school in the system. An earlier phase installed a wireless network at each school. The final phase will make digital classrooms available to students for non-traditional learning opportunities such as online courses, duel enrollment opportunities and courses not offered at local schools. The school system is contributing $66,000 toward the project.
The ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties, including 39 in Alabama, across the Appalachian Region. The agency’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the ARC program in Alabama along with a wide range of other programs that support law enforcement, economic development, workforce development, recreation, energy conservation and water resource management.
“Technology is critical to a high-quality education, and ADECA continually looks for opportunities to partner with local school systems to help provide the tools, technology and training for Alabama students to prepare for success,” ADECA Director Jim Byard Jr. said. “Through a strong partnership with the ARC and ADECA, I am proud of the opportunities these three grants will offer students in DeKalb and Cherokee counties.”