« Back to News & Announcements

A FirstEnergy Foundation Grant Invests in SCCC Tech Programs

11/1/2022 12:08:03 PM

Three men stand in a Welding shopA generous $50,000 grant from The FirstEnergy Foundation will assist Sussex County Community College (SCCC) to overcome challenges to keeping equipment and supplies needed in the career and technical education programs.

FirstEnergy’s Investing With Purpose (IWP) grant program was created in response to the impact on communities in the utility’s service area from COVID-19 and social injustices. New Jersey along with Pennsylvania, and Maryland receive the IWP grants.

A formal check presentation highlighting the grant was held at SCCC’s McGuire Technical Education Center on Friday, Oct. 28. 

Enrollment in SCCC Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs has increased due to the surge in unemployment and displaced workers. During the pandemic, essential workers and skilled trades needed to operate by whatever means necessary to keep the industries moving. Supply-chain issues and overall increased costs had the biggest negative impact on the CTE programs at SCCC. As businesses took a hit and tried to rebound, their commitment to supporting the CTE programs was compromised.

The College saw the overall cost of materials and supplies needed for operations increase. For example, the cost of fuels and precious metals for the SCCC welding program has grown 1.5 times compared to two years ago. The problem is higher equipment and materials costs and a decrease in funding.

The $50,000 IWP grant will help offset the materials issue and ensure that SCCC has the resources to continue innovating and sustaining its Technical Education Programs. The College can give students, graduates, and the community what they need to succeed and prepare for the ever-changing job market.

“Many of our communities are still facing a significant hardship due to the pandemic. Organizations like Sussex County Community College that are on the frontline of our current health and economic crisis have realigned to support current needs in the community, including workforce development and training,” said Lorna Wisham, vice president of Corporate Affairs & Community Involvement and president of the FirstEnergy Foundation. “We’ve witnessed the positive impact these grants have made for deserving organization, and we look forward to seeing how this round of contributions will help strengthen the communities we serve.”

“This grant opportunity with FirstEnergy has enabled the College to offer continued training in our technical programs while overcoming supply chain delays and shortages. At the same time providing financial support to meet the sharp increases of critical supplies and consumables. Lastly, this program has also opened many opportunities to families and students who struggle financially as they begin their technical training," said Jason Fruge, SCCC Dean of Technical Occupations.

Career programs and education have a direct and lasting impact on the community's citizens, businesses, and economy by providing financial independence through quality education, promotion of well-being through a sense of accomplishment, and inclusion in the workforce.

Over the last seven years, the school has expanded Technical Education Programs to include Automotive Service Technology, Diesel Service Technology, Electrical Lineman, Machine Tool Technology, Optics Technology, and Welding, all in-demand fields.

Newton, home to SCCC’s main campus, has been identified as an “overburdened community” by the state, with more than 40% of residents classified as low-income. The College’s McGuire Technical Education Center, in the heart of downtown, aims to provide traditional and non-traditional students with the skills necessary to obtain sustainable, high-wage, high-demand jobs. The investment by the College and FirstEnergy’s commitment is assisting Newton’s revitalization of businesses and economic development.

For information about The Career and Technical Education Programs at SCCC, go to sussex.edu/technical. Registration for the spring semester begins Monday, November 14th.

Pictured: Jason Fruge, dean of Technical Education at SCCC, Rich Rebisz, regional External Affairs Consultant for JCP&L FirstEnergy Foundation and Stan Kula, director of the SCCC Foundation stand in the Welding area of the McGuire Technical Education Center where much of the program materials will be purchased for students.