2018-05-10 / Viewpoint

College is becoming more accessible

Tim Herman — Guest columnist

Flint is recovering. That’s a simple and researchable fact. But lately, this fact has been masked by a resurgence of media headlines on if Flint residents and businesses have potable water. So, while our region works through this challenging issue, I want to turn your attention to some positive news about educational opportunities in Genesee County.

Colleges and universities are important engines of economic growth, and we are fortunate to have some of the best here in the Flint area – The University of Michigan-Flint, Kettering University, Mott Community College and Baker College of Flint – also, there are satellite college campuses and roughly 30,000 students. In addition to their economic impact, these institutions play a role in developing talent and partnering with local employers, workforce agencies, Flint & Genesee Chamber and others – to prepare students for work and leadership in the 21st century workplace.

And you don’t have to look far for evidence of their commitment. At least three new college scholarships have been recently announced.

UM-Flint (umflint.edu) announced a new master’s-level scholarship to recognize, reward and develop the region’s next generation of leadership talent. The scholarship covers the costs of up to two consecutive, full academic years of tuition and mandatory fees. Eligible applicants must reside in and be employed by an organization that has a physical location in Genesee County.

Mott Community College (mcc.edu) just formed a new partnership with Cypress Creek Renewables, to invest in Michigan’s solar workforce. Through a generous donation from Cypress, a Solar Program Fund has been established at MCC. The new fund will assist MCC in providing scholarships to students that want to pursue a career in solar energy.

The partnership helps to ensure that the solar industry has access to the right people – now and in the future -- as the industry expands and creates new jobs.

And let’s not forget Flint Promise (theflintpromise.org), the scholarship fund generously established by Detroit Pistons Owner Tom Gores, chairman and CEO of Platinum Equity, and the Consumers Energy Foundation. Any student that graduates from a Flint high school or has a GED and resides in the City of Flint is eligible for the scholarship, which can be used at MCC toward a certificate or associate degree program. Upon completion there, students can extend Flint Promise at UM-Flint.

Kettering (kettering.edu ) and Baker (baker.edu) have also offered scholarship opportunities. For example, last fall the Bosch Fellowship was established from the Bosch Community Fund to support annual fellowships for academically talented Kettering University students.

Also last fall, Baker announced that it was working with The Michigan Council of Women in Technology to expand its support of females who are pursuing higher education in technology. The college created a scholarship for women majoring in IT degrees.

These scholarship programs and many others are great opportunities. They make college and certification programs more accessible, and long-term will help create a larger talent pool for employers. That’s great news! And, great news can be contagious if we all take a little time to help spread the word.

Tim Herman is the CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.

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