In partnership with the City of Springfield, American International College (AIC) has been awarded a $270,000 grant to create a new program that will offer several support services – and in some cases, direct financial aid – to bring students back to complete certificate and degree programs. Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Chief Development Officer (CDO) Tim Sheehan announced the partnership as part of the Sarno Administration’s Higher Education ARPA Fund at City Hall on December 6.
AIC’s ‘Workforce and You’ initiative is designed to support students returning to the College to prepare to work in fields facing critical workforce shortages, such as health, education, and public safety, explained AIC President Hubert Benitez. “There are many individuals with many (college) credits but no degree, and that is not a good recipe for the workforce or the city, so we are trying to reinvigorate and bring back that community of students, or potential students, or prior students,” he said. “If successful, the program could be replicated across the country.”
Benitez adds supplying financial resources for students will be a focus of AIC’s new guided workforce readiness program. “We’re going to provide education and support to navigate the financial aid system – FAFSA, scholarships, loans, grants, and financial literacy – to reduce the debt of students upon graduation, and we’re going to provide financial support in the form of a scholarship for Springfield residents,” he said.
Mayor Sarno had previously announced the creation of the $750,000 Higher Education ARPA Fund as part of his 13th round of ARPA awards back in July 2023. AIC was joined by Springfield College and Western New England University as recipients of the grant money. The grants from the city should fund the colleges’ initiatives for the next 2-3 years, said Sheehan. “We think this is going to be a great foundation that ultimately can be funded by the state and federal governments,” he said.
Learn more in the following local news stories:
WesternMassNews: 3 Springfield colleges receive ARPA funding
WWLP22News: Springfield awards $750K in ARPA funds for local colleges
WAMC-Northeast Public Radio: Grants awarded to 3 Springfield colleges