DirectConnect Program Assist with College Expenses

DirectConnect Program Assist with College Expenses
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DirectConnect Program Assist with College Expenses

Katharine Eneguess, President of White Mountains Community College

The primary goal of the DirectConnect program is to provide financial assistance to individuals who intend to work as service providers in community-based direct care positions within the state of New Hampshire. For these individuals, finding the money to pay for tuition, books, and fees can be challenging. Students in some of the programs that relate to direct care positions might not be eligible for federal financial aid. This should not deter anyone considering entering these programs. Oftentimes there are other workforce opportunity grants available.

New Hampshire's DirectConnect is an excellent example of non-traditional education funds. This program, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to the University of New Hampshire, can provide students with up to $2,500 per year for students in certificate or associate degree programs in Human Services. Those enrolled in the fields of Allied Health, Nursing and Wellness; Social Service; and Education and Early Childhood can apply for a DirectConnect grant. The funds granted can be used for tuition, fees and books for students seeking to earn a professional degree or certificate that could lead to employment in community based jobs involving direct care in the human services.

According to projections made in 2004 by the State of New Hampshire Office of State Planning, by 2030 there will be twice as many citizens over 85 as there are today. Coupled with that, the number of women between the ages of 25 and 44 is expected to decline six percent. It is this demographic group from which most of our direct-care professionals come, so in the years ahead we could have even more of a critical shortage of workers who are fundamental to providing good care for our elderly and disabled citizens.

The New Hampshire Coalition for Direct Care Workforce, established in 2007, provided the goals outlined in the grant for the DirectConnect Project. Professionals from organizations such as the North Country Health Consortium, Granite State Independent Living, and the N.H Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services are involved in this coalition. The first scholarship grants for those in the Community College System of New Hampshire were made available for the Spring Semester 2011.

DirectConnect does not have unlimited funds. Established through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) workforce development strategy and aimed at giving workers the skills needed to be gainfully employed as home and community direct-care workers, awards are made on a first-come first-served basis until the grant monies from the federal government run out.

Note: DirectConnect Funds are no longer available.

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