Students affected by COVID-19 can get free tuition at Maricopa Community Colleges, funded by Phoenix
The following story was posted on azcentral.com.
By Alison Steinbach
Tami Smith moved to metro Phoenix from North Carolina earlier this year specifically to enroll at GateWay Community College’s machining program.
The 54-year-old wanted to shift from low-paying call center jobs to the manufacturing industry and she knew of the Maricopa Community Colleges from her brother’s time there. She moved cross-country and started learning machining as the only woman in her cohort.
But paying for the eight-month program isn't easy — she’s taken out student loans, worked at a pharmacy and balanced rent and health care costs. Her program ends in December, at which point she plans to get a machining job.
But reskilling at Maricopa Community Colleges is about to get easier for some county residents with a new program in partnership with Phoenix to fund training for career transitions towards high-wage, high-demand jobs.
Beginning this month, students whose jobs or income were affected by the pandemic can receive free tuition, monthly stipends and employment help in a range of workforce programs from manufacturing to health care at the county’s 10 community colleges.
Phoenix is using $7 million of its federal pandemic relief dollars to fund the "Route to Relief" program, which will run through December 2024.
“We are hoping today is the start to a career transformation for so many Phoenix residents,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said at the program’s launch Monday inside a spacious lab at GateWay’s Central City campus, where about a dozen machining students were mid-class.
“We have a unique opportunity to help people enter extremely high-wage careers in Maricopa County. We know it’s been a difficult few years for our residents, but we hope that today we celebrate some silver linings,” Gallego said.