Community Colleges Get $2.5 Million to Help Communities

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After-school snack? No, the children don’t usually sample the pickle juice at the Eureka Kids after-school program in Eureka Springs, Ark. But after playing “pass the pickle” at an event last month for the national Lights On After School day, one girl sampled the juice.

Events on Oct. 16 at some 7,500 sites across the country and at U.S. military bases around the world commemorated the annual Lights On celebration, according to the Washington-based Afterschool Alliance. In other events: Youths in Fairbanks, Alaska, lit trees with low-wattage holiday lights; youths from Wesley House Family Services and Boys & Girls Clubs of the Keys marched, holding light bulbs, in Key West, Fla.; and Roxbury Weston C.A.T.C.H Afterschool Program, in Boston, hosted a “Harvest Time” open house, where youths and parents explored the different uses of fruits and vegetables that are harvested in the fall.

Photo: Eureka Kids

A $2.5 million grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) will provide 20 community colleges with direct funds and technical assistance.

The colleges were selected through a competitive process and will work with their communities to improve economic prosperity, with a focus on under-resourced and rural communities, according to the AACC. The programs will serve as models for the more than 800 rural institutions that make up more than two-thirds of the AACC’s nearly 1,200 colleges, the association said.

“This network of pilot projects will provide innovative and sustainable partnerships that expand the capacity of community colleges to spur economic growth,” AACC President George R. Boggs said in a prepared statement.

Programs will include safe mining in the Appalachians and wind energy education and training in Nebraska.

The program will be administered by AACC’s Center for Workforce and Economic Development, in collaboration with the National Center on Education and the Economy.