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Photo courtesy of Whitehouse.govI have noticed that the current grants our community college district has received from the state of California have already been halved in this current fiscal year, with many not even seeing the light of day next fiscal year 2010-2011. Our state, along with at least forty others, is suffering from the prolonged recession.

Tax revenues are falling dramatically, thereby severely restricting, and in some cases, totally eliminating local and state grants and funding sources.

Recently, I was asked by my community college to conduct a grant workshop for our faculty and staff. Next month, I will be presenting “Chasing Obama Buck$: Getting Your Share of the American Pie.” Given the dire funding situation in our state, the President’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 also known as $797 Billion Stimulus Package, is where the grant money still flows.

Mind you, a small portion is reserved for higher education, since the majority is going to “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects. With unemployment still growing and community college enrollment increasing, we are situated at an enviable juncture. The recently unemployed and unable to find work baccalaureate graduates are seeking fast-track worker training and re-training in the emerging technologies: biotech, nanotech, alternative energy and other green collar jobs. Training is offered face-to-face, online and hybrid through our career and technical education courses.

A larger percentage of the first round of ARRA funds are going to Research 1 (doctoral granting) institutions of higher education (the University of California, Stanford and University of Southern California). Their next generation basic research innovations are in the pipeline. California Community Colleges are positioned to be in the next phase, training new green collar workers.

How can you position your community college to take advantage of this ARRA funding stream?

It is important to note that there are technology-related ARRA grants available on different federal agency Web sites: Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, National Telecommunications Information Agency, Department of Energy and Department of Agriculture. Much of the ARRA funding has been parceled out to these agencies. They have initiatives for higher education, including community colleges. You may need to do some homework, but it may reap potential rewards for you and your college. <>