2008-01-02 / Features

MetLife Foundation Gives $125,000 Grant To LaG CC

LaGuardia Community College has been awarded a $125,000 MetLife Foundation grant to develop a program that will encourage adult students completing high school equivalency studies (GED) to pursue higher education. The GED Bridge to Business Careers Program will help more than 100 underserved adults, many of whom live in poverty, to transition from basic education courses to an associate degree in business. The competitive grant was one of 10 awarded in the Foundation's $1.2 million initiative to increase the number of community college students who enroll prepared, succeed academically, and complete certificates, degrees or college transfers.

"The MetLife grant enables LaGuardia to transform the lives of Queens residents, moving them from the lowest paying jobs to rewarding careers," LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow said. "Students will be on a fast track to receive the education they need to be full participants in today's economy."

The GED Bridge to Business Careers Program will offer students a specialized GED course of study focusing on businessthemed reading, writing and math. In addition, students will be able to participate in workshops on career development, study skills and technology. A key component of the program is the development of electronic portfolios (ePortfolios), where students create a Web-based portfolio of their work, and participation in online advisement seminars. Students completing the GED program will be enrolled in credit courses to earn their business degree.

"The newly developed GED curriculum gives students the opportunity to learn about specialized business related content," Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Paul Acario said. "This new GED course will help students understand financial concepts and structures as well as use many of the foundational math skills tested on the GED."

In Queens County, approximately 20 percent of the population do not have a high school diploma or equivalent. Research has shown that the majority of new jobs being created require training and education beyond high school. Even after individuals earn a GED diploma, many do not continue with essential higher education. The GED Bridge to Business Careers Program will address this issue by assisting students to pass the GED exam, while at the same time preparing them to pursue business degrees at the college.

The MetLife Foundation's Pathways to Student Success grant initiative supports expansion of proven methods and introduction of innovative strategies to aid disadvantaged students in preparing for college, gaining essential knowledge and skills in college, completing degrees and securing employment. Institutions invited to apply were asked to show that proposed activities are consistent with institutional planning and priorities and had clear goals and measurable results. The grants range from $100,000 to $150,000. With this grant program initiative, MetLife Foundation continues a long commitment to community colleges as a dynamic sector of higher education, which serves a disproportionate number of first-generation, minority, part-time, working and career-changing students.

"Community colleges play a vital role by providing opportunities for students of all ages and backgrounds to develop the skills they need for economic stability and success in life," Sibyl Jacobson, MetLife Foundation president, said. "These grants respond to the needs of aspiring students in ways that will help assure more of them reach their goals."

In addition to LaGuardia, grants were awarded to Bronx Community College, The Bronx,; Bunker Hill Community College, Boston, Massachusetts; Capital Community College, Hartford, Connecticut; Community College of Rhode Island, Warwick, Rhode Island; Hostos Community College, The Bronx; Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, New York; Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn; Northampton Community College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Raritan Valley Community College, North Branch, New Jersey.

MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 by MetLife to carry on the company's longstanding tradition of community involvement and contributions. The foundation supports education, health, civic and cultural programs throughout the United States. In education it places special emphasis on strengthening teaching and learning in public schools and on community colleges. Its grant making is informed by findings from the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. For more information, visit the MetLife Foundation Web site at www.metlife.org.

Located in Long Island City, LaGuardia Community College, part of the City University of New York, is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges. Founded in 1971, LaGuardia Community College has been recognized as an innovator in educating students who are underprepared for college work and/or are not primary English speakers. Its tradition of academic excellence has opened doors for its students to prestigious baccalaureate colleges and satisfying careers. To learn about LaGuardia Community College, visit www.laguardia.edu.

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