Excellence in Training awards two Kent Co. applications – Delaware State Information

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DOVER — The Inner City Cultural League and Polytech Adult Education are the inaugural Excellence in Education grant recipients.

Excellence in Education — driven by community partners the Greater Kent Committee, the Kent Economic Partnership and the Delaware State News — officially launched last year to foster workforce development initiatives in Kent County.

The program announced its first recipients Wednesday, along with the opportunity to apply for interim grants this winter.

“One of the most important factors in economic development is your workforce. And as an economic developer, it’s never been more important that we develop our workforce into the workforce of the future,” said Linda Parkowski, executive director of the Kent Economic Partnership. “When attracting companies, one of the major questions that they ask is: How is your workforce? Are they trained? Will you be able to supply us the labor? And the Excellence in Education grant allows us to do that, allows us to create the programs we need, to create our pipeline for the workers of the future.”

The Inner City Cultural League, which received $2,262 from the grant, will use its funding for the Sankofa Cyber Streets Outreach Program to help ensure the organization is able to present IT Fundamentals Certification training to at least 30 people.

Cyber Streets is a technology mentorship program “designed to uplift, equip and empower communities in need,” said Rob Bentley, founder and president of Cyber Streets.

“It allows people to grow in ways they couldn’t have before,” said Jason Stewart, vice president of Cyber Streets. “It allows people to find a future in ways they couldn’t find a future before. It allows individuals to find success that otherwise was escaping them.”

Three years ago, the Inner City Cultural League was approached by Mr. Bentley about the program.

“We are a place in the community that they can come and take advantage of the programs and the activities that we have, including learning IT, the Cyber Streets and art and everything,” said Kathrina Stroud, executive director of the Inner City Cultural League.

Certification will be available to all community members, regardless of age and background, at little or no cost to participate.

Polytech Adult Education, which was awarded $4,832, seeks to expand its apprenticeship program in information technology. The new IT apprenticeship program will launch for the fall 2020 semester.

The grant will cover certification and exam costs for the students in the program.

“Our program is really important and vital to the workforce here in Kent County in making sure that we have a pipeline of IT talent for our local employers,” said Jeremy McEntire, assistant director of Polytech Adult Education. “We’re extremely thankful and appreciative.”

Meanwhile, Excellence in Education will also award an interim grant program this year. More information about those grants is available at cendelfoundation.org.

Applications are due by the end of February, and a grant presentation will be made in early April, said Tonda Parks, director of event marketing and community outreach at the Delaware State News.

“If (organizations have) workforce development initiatives that need a little bit more money, we’re here to help support you,” Ms. Parks said.

The normal grant cycle will open again in June; those grants will be awarded in fall 2021.

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