PNC grant to support Thaddeus Stevens effort to educate low-income adults

Cris Collingwood//April 20, 2022

PNC grant to support Thaddeus Stevens effort to educate low-income adults

Cris Collingwood//April 20, 2022

A student demonstrates skills learned in his commercial and industrial plumbing class to Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology President Pedro Rivera at the College’s Workforce and Economic Development Center. PHOTO/PROVIDED

PNC Foundation is supporting Thaddeus Stevens College Foundation’s efforts to put low-income adults from Black and brown communities in Lancaster to work. 

A grant of $112,500 from PNC will be used to expand education and training opportunities within the College’s Workforce and Economic Development Center (WEDC), the college said. 

“Specifically, this grant will offer direct, short-term educational services through our WEDC to 14 low-income adults from Black and Brown communities who are unemployed or under-employed,” said Pedro Rivera, president of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology (TSCT). “After completing our short-term training program, these individuals will be prepared for entry level jobs in the building trades, welding, and building maintenance and repair.” 

Historically, he said, the college’s short-term programs have a placement rate of 96%. 

 “We are confident that this funding will support more Lancaster residents in increasing their employability skills and obtaining full-time jobs. But it won’t stop there,” Rivera said. “PNC’s grant will also help create lifelong economic prosperity as our students accept family-sustaining jobs, purchase homes, build wealth, and contribute to our collective community.” 

The poverty rate in Lancaster is 26.5%, a higher-than-average percentage of residents living below the poverty line compared to the rest of Pennsylvania, Rivera said. Data show that low-income students are five times more likely to drop out of high school than those who are high-income, resulting in long-term effects on their ability to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.  

“PNC and Thaddeus Stevens aim to help eliminate some of the barriers that are sustaining this gap by offering viable solutions for the thousands of individuals locally that need training for living wage jobs.” he said. 

 “To help build employability skills, we need to offer a holistic approach for those who identify as low income, unemployed, or underemployed,” he said. “Wrap-around student support is a proven practice for removing barriers that low-to-moderate-income adults often face in accessing workforce skill development. Many students often need financial support to cover costs associated with tuition, tools, and safety gear.” 

They often also need help with transportation, food, work-safe clothing, and childcare, Rivera said. A large part of this grant will help address these critical – yet often unmet – needs that can be tremendous barriers to the success of the students. 

This grant will also focus on meeting supplementary needs through community partnerships with numerous other local non-profit organizations. 

For the past three years, TSCT has coordinated three highly successful, short-term training programs: Production Welding, Commercial and Industrial, and Facilities Maintenance. In the past two years, 52 adults received tuition-free training in Facilities Maintenance, and nearly all of them are now working full-time for dozens of employers in the field, Rivera said. 

“I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities that PNC has created and will continue to create for our students and their families, and I’m inspired by the ways in which this funding will impact and positively change lives in our community for years to come,” he said.