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Updated: June 28, 2024

Record $75M grant to Maine community colleges will fund more workforce training

Gov. Janet Mills with other dignitaries at SMCC. Photo / Courtesy, Maine Community College System From left, Maine Community College System Chief Workforce Development Officer Dan Belyea; Harold Alfond Foundation Chairman Greg Powell; Gov. Janet Mills; former Gov. John McKernan; and David Daigler, president of the Maine Community College System.

The Harold Alfond Foundation will contribute $75.5 million to short-term workforce training programs at the state's community colleges over the next five years, in the largest-ever grant for the Maine Community College System.

The grant, announced Thursday at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland, will fund programs that generally can be completed in days or weeks and are offered to students free of charge or at a discount.

"This is truly a transformational investment that will directly benefit Mainers and Maine businesses across the state,” said David Daigler, president of the Maine Community College System.

“Maine faces persistent workforce shortages across all industries and age groups, and employers are desperate for skilled workers, fast. These programs, developed side-by-side with Maine employers large and small, give Maine workers free access to the skills they need to enter and progress in today’s workforce.”

The training consists of basic occupational skills training for people looking to enter a field or career; upgraded skills training for current workers so they keep up with evolving industry standards; and scholarships for workers looking to pursue an associate degree or certificate.

The short-term programs are intended to complement community colleges’ traditional offerings of two-year associate degree programs and one-year certificate programs, which also are largely workforce training.

One of the longest-running short-term programs is in welding, which comes with a guaranteed job interview at Bath Iron Works, a $500-a-week “earn while you learn” incentive, and campus housing for some students.

Dozens of other short-term programs are available in health care, including phlebotomy training, advanced emergency medical technical training and medical assistant training.

Combined with two previous, similar grants to the state's community colleges, the new funds bring such investment by the Harold Alfond Foundation to a total of $100 million, supporting short-term workforce training for 100,000 people.

Greg Powell, chairman of the foundation, said, “These programs are critical to building Maine’s skilled workforce, and we’ve seen outstanding results at Maine’s community colleges in recent years. We’re proud our grantmaking will lead to so many people getting the relevant, responsive job skills so needed by our economy."

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