AUSTIN — Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced today five grants totaling $500,000 were awarded through the Parallel Pathways to Success Grant Program (Parallel Pathways), which is designed to meet the workforce needs of rural Texas communities. Grant recipients will provide educational opportunities for students to receive training and garner the skills needed to be successful in pursuing post-secondary education or directly entering the workforce.
“Parallel Pathways helps communities align their educational resources with the workforce needs of their local economy,” Commissioner Staples said. “Texas students deserve the opportunity to learn the skills they need to pursue successful careers, whether that is achieved through direct career training or a traditional college route. By ensuring our future workforce has the skills employers need, we are not only creating a qualified workforce but encouraging economic development in our rural communities.”
Demand for skilled workers continues to grow as the Texas economy flourishes. Parallel Pathways grants are awarded through a competitive process, where applicants are evaluated based on how their program will enable students to acquire the expertise needed to compete in the local workforce. Grant recipients are required to contribute a minimum match of one dollar for every dollar of grant money requested.
“We wanted to do something to bring career opportunities to the kids who weren’t on a fast track to attend a four year college,” said Lavoyger Durham, vice president, Rural South Texas Economic Development Corporation. “We have been able to come up with innovative ways to help the kids get on a good path, which we are very proud of, but this new Parallel Pathways funding will give us a chance to up our game. We really want to thank Commissioner Staples for his foresight in starting the program.”
Parallel Pathways grant recipients include:
Commerce Independent School District: $124,000; Grant funds will be used to build on the Texas Course Sharing Initiative and partnerships between the school district and the local junior college, which allows students to take courses in health science, electrical and welding programs, and earn dual credit and certifications.
Bastrop Independent School District: $85,000; This grant will help ensure students make a seamless transition to future endeavors, whether that is post-secondary education or the workforce. Students also will have the opportunity to receive industry certifications like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) General Industry certification and Microsoft Office certification.
Taylor Independent School District: $110,000; Through a partnership with the local college, students will have the opportunity to earn workforce-related certifications, as well as college credit to put towards associate or bachelor’s degree. Programs offered include auto tech, culinary arts and welding.
Rural South Texas Economic Development Corporation: $115,000; Grants funds will be utilized to expand and add training programs for middle and high school students. Programs include certified nursing assistant, medical records management, construction, building trade and welding, among others.
Haskell Consolidated Independent School District: $66,000; Students will take courses and earn certifications in welding, electricity, concrete work, small engine repair and more. The school district will work with local businesses to develop partnerships that help place students in internships and future employment.
“We are extremely excited to partner with the Texas Department of Agriculture on their Parallel to Success Grant Program,” said Les Hudson, director of career and technology, Bastrop Independent School District. “This grant will help us reach our goal of preparing students at our Genesis Alternative High School to gain valuable workforce skills and increase their opportunities for success after graduation.”
“The grant will provide access to and support for partnerships between our high schools and post-secondary institutions to offer training in programs leading to industry certifications and dual credit for high-skill, high-wage occupations,” said Mary Park, consortium director and counselor, Commerce Independent School District.