(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Missouri Western State University will soon dissolve their community apprenticeship program. In July, the Missouri Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) asked the university to return funds from a Community Block Grant awarded to Western in 2012.
The $1 million grant authorized by former Missouri Governor Jay Nixon provided the funding to establish the Buchanan County Degree Attainment Initiative (BCDAI).
The BCDAI provided a $7,500 scholarship and on the job training to students employed in high demand industries, but who could not afford the costs associated with completing their degree.
Gordon Mapley, Dean and Executive Director of the Western Institute said the university wanted to implement the BCDAI to focus on the needs of adults in St. Joseph and help boost the local economy.
“Some of the schools in the state chose to focus on traditional aged students in trying to help them complete a degree in less time. At Missouri Western we decided to focus on the adult population. My goal was to help incumbent workers complete a degree that would allow them to advance in their company and become more valuable to their company,” Mapley said.
The program collaborated with over 20 local employers including Mosaic Life Care and Boehringer Ingelheim as well as other industry leaders in manufacturing, energy solution, bioscience, health services and information technology.
For each partnering business, at least 51 percent of program participants had to qualify with their county of residence at low or moderate income, obtain sponsorship from their current employer and maintain a 2.0 GPA.
Mapley said because the grant did not have a set expiration date, the university was highly selective of who would receive the scholarships.
“We had very little notice that the funds were being pulled. Had we known that from the outset, we would have taken in more people and help more people, but we were trying to make sure our success ratio was as high as possible,” Mapley said.
The university had originally planned to help over 100 students obtain their degree through the scholarship program, but due to the retraction of funds, the university has only been able to award 41 degrees through BCDAI.
Western used approximately $441,000 of the $1million grant and was required to return the remaining $559,000 to HUD for redistribution to other federal programs.
Currently Western has 24 students enrolled in the degree attainment program. Students that are currently enrolled will continue to receive scholarship money until completing their degree. However, the program will no longer take on new applicants.