SkillsUSA is a leadership organization for career and technical students who compete in their fields of study on the secondary and collegiate level. At its core, SkillsUSA helps technical and vocational students excel today in preparation of career success tomorrow. So it’s no wonder that with the emerging need for technical and vocational specialists across the country, Cleveland State Community College recently relaunched the program this past year.
Thanks to some serious fundraising efforts by the college club’s members and supporters, the SkillsUSA club just got a major boost through a $10,000 matching grant known as the Smart START Grant.
The grant is designed to jumpstart SkillsUSA programs that are less than two years old or reignite SkillsUSA programs that have been inactive for two or more years.
As Cleveland State’s SkillsUSA program recently relaunched, the grant was a great way to get the program off the ground.
“Cleveland State is a great place to continue building knowledge and skills, and SkillsUSA only adds to that,” said Jen Marx, CSCC Coordinator of Student Life. “SkillsUSA serves students in all kinds of disciplines, from machinery and drafting to healthcare and STEM-related inventions to speech and small business endeavors.”
One way SkillsUSA prepares students is through competitions. And while the organization has served more than 13.5 million students and teachers since 1965, three Cleveland State students walked boldly into the college’s first state SkillsUSA competition in years, proving CSCC students can hold their own against seasoned competitors.
At the event held at the Chattanooga Convention Center, two of three CSCC students brought home awards in their respective categories. Brittany Strickland earned a bronze medal in architectural drafting and Tabitha Swallows brought home the gold in photography. Nathan Phillips, while not medaling, gained invaluable experience by competing in technical drafting.
With the Start SMART Grant, more students will benefit from SkillsUSA. Because as exciting as the college’s victories are, engaging in SkillsUSA and the organization’s competitions isn’t free.
Membership fees must be paid and maintained. For competitions, students must bring their own computers, photography equipment, materials, and tools. On top of those expenses, each competition has a uniform that students must wear.
That’s where the grant comes in. Through the Start SMART Grant, CSCC’s SkillsUSA program will be able to purchase items that will ensure more students get a leg up on their future careers through SkillsUSA and the organization’s competitions.
Items the grant will fund include SkillsUSA competition uniforms and practice materials; travel expenses; computers and software for off-campus use; marketing and recruitment materials to attract more students, faculty, and industry partners to the program; stipends for SkillsUSA advisors; and more.
“Students really have a good time with SkillsUSA, but it’s not about fun and games. It helps hone their skills so they can be better prepared to enter the workforce and have an immediate positive impact wherever they land,” said Chuck Barkley, associate professor of Engineering Systems at CSCC. “With this grant, we don’t have to stress over the cost of equipment and travel. It’s taken care of, which means our students can focus on what’s most important: preparing for their futures.”
To learn more about SkillsUSA, contact Chuck Barkley at firstname.lastname@example.org.