Chesco celebrates graduation of project RECONNECT students

One year after the introduction of Project RECONNECT, 97 students have celebrated or will be celebrating their graduation – an achievement they thought might never be completed were it not for support from this first-of-its-kind workforce development program.

Administered by the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC), Project RECONNECT assists individuals from southeastern Pennsylvania who started their post-secondary education degree or certification but had to stop before completing due to unforeseen personal life situations. Project RECONNECT’s funds were awarded to qualified individuals working towards employment in a high-priority or in-demand occupation – primarily healthcare.  In addition to tuition, the program provides support for childcare, transportation, and food.

Through Project RECONNECT, CCEDC enrolled qualified students in a number of the region’s colleges and universities including Chestnut Hill College, Delaware County Community College, Harcum College, Montgomery County Community College, Peirce College, Penn State University and West Chester University.

“This is graduation season – a time of celebration, recognizing the tremendous accomplishments of students who have worked hard to achieve formal qualifications.  For the 97 Project RECONNECT students, the celebration is even sweeter, because it is an achievement that they thought might never happen,” said Chester County Commissioners Josh Maxwell, Marian Moskowitz, and Eric Roe.

“This program has not only been transformative for these graduates, it has led to a better educated and trained workforce for employers – a win-win for Chester County,” added the Commissioners.

Patti VanCleave, CCEDC Vice President of Workforce Development said, “Since launching just one year ago, Project RECONNECT has helped almost 100 students eliminate the barriers to finishing their credential or degree.

“Not only does this provide a critical boost to workforce in the industries that need it most, the program has the potential to really change a student’s future. Working together to attain additional funding, our hope is that we can continue the program for students who require training in health care, technology, education and more,” added VanCleave.

Project RECONNECT is funded through a $2 million PA Department of Labor & Industry grant awarded to the Chester County Department of Workforce Development, supporting the Workforce Development Boards of Chester, Berks, and Montgomery Counties.

To qualify for Project RECONNECT, students must have disengaged from their post-secondary education programs in the past two years, have a GPA of 2.0, and less than one year left for a certification credential, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. Each student was assigned a Success Navigator who provides a safety net and coaching from day-one through completion of credentials, ensuring participation, support, and career development to obtain employment. Once the student’s learning program was completed, CCEDC connected them with employers as well as workforce development programs like PA CareerLink® and CCEDC’s Health Care Connect and Hire One programs to ensure they were career ready.

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