June 18, 2013
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Area groups get $1.8 million in grants” – Mishandling a $5,000 financial aid refund check can land a student in steep debt and eventual poverty.
Since August 2012, the Financial Wellness Center of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay has been helping students develop spending plans to manage those large sums of money each semester.
“Financial aid is the largest piece of money they’ve ever seen,” said program financial coach Michael Brown.
Refund checks are intended to supplement a student’s income during a semester and should be used for housing, transportation, food and other basic needs, Brown said.
However, some students spend all the money within a month on cars, electronics, dining out and clothes, he said.
The program has been awarded a $50,000 grant to improve operations through the Basic Giving Needs Partnership, which announced Monday it will award almost $1.8 million in grants to more than 80 Fox Valley-area groups that are working to address assorted community issues from domestic violence to social development for children.
The partnership is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Venture Open Fund for Basic Needs, the J.J. Keller Foundation Inc., the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.
This year’s cumulative grant awards total of $1,772,473 is $344,544 more than last year’s figure of $1,427,929.
Sarah Schmidt, director of the U.S. Venture Open, an annual golf outing fundraiser, said last year’s event raised about $1.86 million to benefit the basic needs fund.
“Poverty is real in Northeastern Wisconsin,” Schmidt said to about 30 local leaders who attended the grant announcement Monday at the Student Center at NWTC, 2740 W. Mason St., Green Bay. “We know that working families with two working parents are having a more and more difficult time meeting their basic needs.”
Since beginning in 1986, the U.S. Venture Open has raised more than $16.2 million, including more than $10 million made for grants.
“These programs are teaching people how to have the independence that they really desire,” Schmidt said. “It’s critical that leaders in this community step up and really think about ways that they can impact this positively because these are problems that we can solve.”
Organizers hope to raise more than $2 million for the 28th annual U.S. Venture Open, which will be held Aug. 14 at several regional golf courses. Former Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver will be the event dinner’s featured guest.
The partnership donated almost $400,000 to 11 programs in the Green Bay area involving dozens of nonprofits, groups and public agencies. The new NWTC financial coaching program is in the second year of a three-year grant plan totaling $160,000. The funds will allow Brown to work full-time on campus instead of off-site a few miles away. So far, he said he has provided one-on-one counseling to 120 students, but has spoken to about 380 students overall through classroom appearances. The program is modeled after a pilot program at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton. That project is now in its third year.
More than $715,000 in grants was awarded to organizations in the Fox Cities area and the partnership will give about $215,000 to the Oshkosh area. About $240,000 in grants was announced for national and regional projects, including a leadership program for 16 nonprofit executive directors.
One participant of that program is Robyn Davis, president of Freedom House Ministries, which operates a Green Bay shelter for homeless families in Brown County.
The program is helping Davis and other leaders study how other organizations have been successful in battling poverty and encouraging participants to find solutions to the unique problems facing their communities.
Freedom House has partnered with Integrated Community Solutions and the Crisis Center of Family Services on the Supporting Our Families Together Project, which was awarded the first installment of a three-year $135,000 grant to continue to provide motel vouchers and case management for homeless families with children.
“Our goal is to make sure no homeless families with children are on the street,” Davis said.
Like the families it serves, Freedom House is not expected to rely on grants forever, and Davis said the organization may develop a business or form a partnership that can generate revenue in the future to fund operations.
“We have an understanding of why it’s important to become self-sufficient, and then we can certainly pass that along to our families,” she said.
From leadertelegram.com: “CVTC to create training center for heating, cooling technologies” – Employer demand for technicians skilled in the newest energy-efficient heating and cooling technologies is prompting Chippewa Valley Technical College to budget $1.3 million toward training facilities.
Vacant building space in CVTC’s Transportation Center on its West Campus would undergo transformation into a training center in new heating, ventilation and cooling systems.
“We’d like to start a new program called sustainable facilities management,” said Doug Olson, the college’s executive director of facilities and community relations.
Companies have been interested in upgrading their heating and cooling systems to more energy-efficient ones, Olson said, but they’ve been reluctant due to a lack of technicians who know how to program and maintain the latest high-tech computer-controlled systems.
Vehicle bays in the Transportation Center were too small for newer semitrailer chassis, requiring CVTC to move that program into a leased building last year, leaving its old space empty.
“The existing space had sat idle, so we decided to renovate that space and deploy it again,” said Kirk Moist, CVTC’s director of finance and budgeting.
Renovations to the Transportation Center still would need approval from the Wisconsin Technical College System Board and other state panels before work could begin, Olson noted.
Also included in CVTC’s proposed 2013-14 budget is ongoing renovation to the college’s Business Education Center, 620 W. Clairemont Ave.
The college has been modernizing its main building for the past three years and is continuing this coming school year with more than $1 million in renovation projects, Moist said.
Most of the work is designed to move staff offices and other areas students seldom visit to the basement level, freeing up space on the main floor.
“Anything that’s either student-focused in terms of classrooms, labs or student services, we want on the first floor,” Olson said.
Carried over from the previous year’s budget is spending toward the $7.9 million Energy Education Center planned for the West Campus.
School officials have said that center — a combination of remodeling and additions to existing buildings — only would be done when about $1 million in private sector donations is received.
Even with a rise in capital projects proposed in the 2013-14 budget, the impact on taxpayers and increase to CVTC spending is small.
“We’re describing this as a ‘stagnant revenue environment,’ ” Moist said.
Federal and state contributions to CVTC also will be similar to what they were for the 2012-13 budget, he added.
Property taxes collected by CVTC are expected to decline by $400,000. The result to homeowners will be a 41-cent tax increase for CVTC on property tax bills that will be mailed in December for a home valued at $100,000.
Technical colleges currently are held to one of the strictest property tax levy limits in Wisconsin, which Moist anticipates will be relaxed in the upcoming state budget. That still will only allow CVTC to raise its tax levy in proportion to the value of new construction in its district — similar to the levy limits placed on municipal governments.
The proposed property tax levy for CVTC is $35 million out of a 2013-14 budget with total spending of $90.9 million.
Property values are again projected to fall in CVTC’s 11-county tax district.
“We are predicting it will fall one more time and that will be the fifth year in the row that has happened,” Moist said.
Valued at $20 billion in the current budget, Moist projects a 1.36 percent drop in property values, settling at $19.78 billion in the 2014 fiscal year.
The Technical College System Board did agree to raise tuition by 4.5 percent for the upcoming school year.
June 18, 2013
From voiceofwr.com: “MSTC Budget Calls for Flat Taxes” – GRAND RAPIDS — Mid-State Technical College Board of Directors adopted June 17 a budget $700,000 less than in 2012, according to a press release from the college.
The reduction will allow property taxes for the college to remain flat because of a projected 1 percent drop in equalized value of the district.
The budget, which takes effect July 1, for the technical college is $28.8 million and reflects financial challenges that are an issue across the county, said Nelson Dahl, vice president of finance, in the release.
“We once again trimmed operational costs and reduced positions in a manner that sustains the necessary environment for student success,” he said.
The budget allows the college to invest in a few areas that benefit students, enrich communities, and enhance local business and industry. These operational and capital investments include additional high-demand course sections, relocation to a new Stevens Point Campus, a new Gerontology program, a fire training facility in Wisconsin Rapids, and a stainless steel welding lab in Marshfield.
The college’s mill rate is projected to remain at $1.74 per $1000 of equalized valuation. MSTC’s budget calls for a $170,591 reduction in property taxes in 2013-14.
“The proposed budget’s real dollar impact on area taxpayers is expected to be $173.76 on a $100,000 home, a slight increase of just 30 cents,” Dahl said.
Dahl added that MSTC still poses a considerably lower impact than other taxing authorities because the college serves a broad tax base of 97 municipalities in all or parts of Adams, Clark, Jackson, Juneau, Marathon, Portage, Waushara and Wood Counties.
He also noted that the college has adopted three key results—student success, organizational effectiveness, and employee engagement—that are designed to set clear direction for the college. The budget process also aligns with the Board of Director’s strategic directions, administration goals, and college unit objectives.
“The college’s new key results help establish our work priorities and were consequently useful in shaping the 2013-14 operational budget,” Dahl said.
June 18, 2013
From starjournalnow.com: “Nicolet College tax levy dollars to remain the same” – The Nicolet College Board of Trustees has approved a budget for 2013-14 that keeps the total tax levy for the college the same as the previous year.
The amount levied for the upcoming academic year will total $20,884,373. The new budget also reflects a slight reduction in staffing with a decrease of 1.4 full time positions. Since 2010-11, the college has reduced staffing by the equivalent of 22.2 full-time positions while at the same time making advances in several key academic areas, said Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster.
“Nicolet has been especially competitive in securing new private, federal and state grant funding which has helped fund new initiatives at a time of levy freezes and state general aid reductions,” Burmaster said.
The most significant of these were grants totaling more than $1.3 million to boost manufacturing training. Nicolet is using this money to expand its welding program by 30 percent and also create a series of academic credentials in manufacturing that culminates in the new, two-year industrial mechanical technician associate degree, Burmaster reported.
“Even in these continued tight economic times, the college has been able to find ways to expand key academic programs,” she said. “The advanced training these graduates bring to the workplace will contribute to the overall economic development of the region.”
She also noted that the college’s occupational/technical programs posted an average job placement rate of 90 percent in 2012-13.
June 18, 2013
From wbay.com: “Nearly $1.8 million in grants awarded to fight poverty” – To participate in the annual U.S. Venture Open as a golfer, you only need $475 to qualify.
To receive a grant made possible by the money raised through the golf outing is much harder.
Yet this year, the Basic Needs Giving Partnership is giving away more money than in any previous year.
Nearly $1.8 million in multi-year grants were announced today by the Basic Needs Giving Partnership, which is funded through the money raised by the U.S. Venture Open and the JJ Keller Foundation.
“Whatever people put in, we match that amount. Thereby we can double the impact of the grants in the community,” says Mary Harp-Jirschele, executive director of the JJ Keller Foundation.
It’s a partnership that rewards other partnerships for addressing the root causes of poverty in Northeast Wisconsin.
“We talk a lot about collaboration and that’s what we’re really looking for organizations to do, to collaborate with one another in new and innovative ways,” says Sarah Schmidt, Director of the US Venture Open.
Literacy Green Bay’s joint effort with the YWCA and NWTC fit the bill. Their program is called “Children First Family Literacy”.
“It’s a program where we help adults get their GED so they’re working with instructors to prepare for that and while they are doing that, their preschool children are in an early learning childhood environment getting ready for school,” says Kathy Cornell of Literacy Green Bay.
They are one of 21 new multi-year grant recipients this year.
“This is huge! I think for most non-profits you write a lot of grants and you may get funding for a year but to know that we have funding for 3 years is a big deal,” says Cornell.
Made possible by the U.S. Venture Open golf outing, this year’s event is in August and features Donald Driver as the special guest.
“We’re just excited to partner with somebody who really cares so deeply about the same things we do. His passion is really literacy and basic needs issues,” says Schmidt.
June 18, 2013
From wbay.com: “Training to answer 911 calls” – A pilot program designed to help ease the training and hiring strain on dispatch centers in Northeast Wisconsin is now complete.
They are the newest faces of the future of emergency dispatch. Pending results of a national exam, Monday ten people are becoming certified as emergency dispatchers through a new class at NWTC, teaching them what it’s like on the other end of a 911 call.
“You have no idea what they all have going on their plates as they’re taking that call, plus trying to get the emergency, whether it’s the cops, the ambulances out to you, all the pressure that’s on their shoulders. It really gives you an understanding,” says Tonia Geibel, a student of the dispatcher class and current EMS worker in Door County.
As Action 2 News has reported over the last several months, NWTC partnered with Kewaunee and Brown Counties to create this introduction to dispatching class, partly in response to staffing problems in Brown County’s Communication Center.
The class is designed to reduce the amount of on-the-job training needed and eliminate the number of people who take a dispatching job, then quit suddenly when they realize it’s not for them.
“Any amount of time is very helpful for us, because we do have turnover. That’s part of the industry. We’re trying to reduce it as much as possible, but by having trained people, qualified people coming into the program and being able to reduce that, it takes less time for us to get people on the floor,” says Brown County Public Safety Communications Director Cullen Peltier.
“Out of the class of 10, we have about eight that have expressed an interest to apply as dispatchers,” says NWTC Criminal Justice Instructor John Flannery, who taught the dispatcher class.
While those in the class would still need training in the specific agency they work, depending on success, this class may soon become a requirement to even apply in some agencies.
“That’s in the consideration phase at this point. It’s definitely preferred to have class under their belt before they come to us, because what it does for us is reduce training time,” says Peltier.
This first class was a sort of pilot to see if the program would even work, but already there’s interest for another class, likely to start in September.
“They seemed to really enjoy it and got a real good taste of what dispatching is all about,” says Flannery.
“Now I understand when they get that call, everything they have to go through before I even get that page to go out,” says Geibel.
June 17, 2013
From itjungle.com: “Industry-Driven Training Aims at Skills Gap” – The skilled workforce is a big concern for all companies. In the IBM midrange community, you won’t find many people who believe it isn’t a problem. Potential entry-level employees with IBM i skills are scarce. And companies that are hiring tend to be particular about that. In most instances, organizations are not looking for one-dimensional individuals. Broad-based skills, including multiple languages and operating systems, are more the norm.
What’s being done to address this?
Some companies have found success when the IT and HR departments work together on a recruitment strategy that has close ties to colleges where IBM i skills are part of the computer science curriculum. They are on advisory boards that help determine the classroom subjects. It’s an effective strategy, but it’s not one in widespread use.
Replicating success is not difficult when you have a good template. That’s the thinking of Jim Buck, who is in the process of applying for a grant to do just that. Buck, who heads up one of the most successful IBM i educational tracks at the collegiate level for Gateway Technical College in Wisconsin, hopes the Department of Labor grant will allow Gateway to begin a program to train instructors at other colleges and universities. Among his priorities is helping other institutions set up advisory councils with IBM i shops.
At Gateway, Buck has an advisory council with 12 members representing IBM i shops. They help establish the curriculum and specific skills they view as important for the entry level jobs they hope to be filling now and in the years ahead. It’s the connection and collaboration between companies that need to replenish their workforces and the colleges that can best provide the skilled people that is critically (and I don’t use that word lightly) important.
Buck describes this as “industry-driven training” and he is emphasizing the role of IBM i shops in the preparation of training and the job placement support following the completion of training. The curriculum roadmap consists of three core classes: an introduction to programming, enterprise system concepts, and DB2 programming. The colleges and their advisory boards can select educational tracks to best fit business requirements and employment opportunities.
Gateway is relying on a consortium of community colleges across the U.S. (the 125-member National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers), as well as schools that participate in the IBM Academic Initiative. The initial group of colleges that are expected to prove the program is viable includes: Muskegon Community College in Michigan, Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina, the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland, Metropolitan Community College in Nebraska, and Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois. Each of these schools will be developing partnerships with IBM i-based companies, including software vendors and IBM business partners.
The targeted student population includes college students as well as dislocated workers, the unemployed, veterans, and other adults. Those who complete the training will earn industry-recognized certifications, which will be spearheaded by COMMON.
There are a lot of companies in the IBM i community who could help themselves, help the IBM i community, and help their local communities by lending a hand to this. If your organization isn’t involved in an advisory council relationship with a tech school, the question needs to be asked, “Why not?” Is it because there is no plan for investment in IT personnel for the future? Is it because there’s no investment in IT infrastructure? For all the companies who say they can’t find people with the right skills, are there companies that believe in taking an active role to change that outcome?
“If this consortium of schools gets this grant–and they are asking for up to $25 million to build these centers of excellence–it will be the biggest step forward in teaching Power skills in the 17-year history of the Academic Initiative. This is an enormous step,” says Pete Glass, program manager of the Power Systems Academic Initiative. “But we need to have names to give the grant application strength.”
Companies that are interested in getting involved with this project can take the first step by completing a brief survey that, when compiled, will identify the severity of the skills gaps and rank their importance. Participation in the survey will result in follow up from the project coordinators who can help determine ways in which your company can benefit from this collaboration and how an effective skills pipeline can be hooked into your company.