Greenwood Edge, a program that enables students to earn manufacturing certification through Piedmont Technical College while in high school, will launch this fall in Greenwood County with 24 students.
Greenwood Edge provides the opportunity for students to earn a manufacturing production technician certificate. The program was created in response to recommendations outlined by a consulting company that assisted the Greenwood Partnership Alliance in creating its strategic plan, along with feedback generated from local industry leaders, Piedmont Technical College, and Greenwood County public and private schools, according to a news release.
“Part of the Greenwood Partnership Alliance’s mission is to improve educational achievement to enhance the quality of life in Greenwood County,” said Heather Jones, Greenwood Partnership Alliance CEO, in the release. “This program does exactly that while also helping to provide a ready workforce for economic growth as well.”
A $2,070 value, the program is offered at no cost to students through financial support from the Greenwood Promise, the fiscal agent for the program, and the county’s three public schools. The Greenwood Promise is a scholarship program that pays the difference in tuition expenses after other scholarships, grants and awards have been applied. It is a separate program from the Greenwood Edge.
The Greenwood Edge is available for rising junior and senior students in public, private and home schools. It initially allows the students to earn a manufacturing production technician certificate while in high school. The students can either go directly into the workforce upon graduation or continue working toward a mechatronics associate degree as they will already have completed a semester of coursework toward that end, according to the release.
“Piedmont Technical College is excited about this new opportunity for Greenwood County students,” said Ray Brooks, Piedmont Technical College president, in the release. “This innovative program is a great way to connect K-12 and higher education to the needs of our business community, and it could serve as a model for more opportunities for our students in the future.”
To get the Greenwood Edge started, the Greenwood Promise provided a one-time commitment to cover the cost of tuition for the initial cohort of up to 24 students that will begin in this fall. Funding commitments for subsequent cohorts will be sought from private industry, public funds and grants. The Greenwood County public school districts will cover the costs of transportation, book fees, testing fees, and certificate fees for their respective students. Private schools and home schools will each have their own policies regarding transportation and ancillary costs.
Participation in the Greenwood Edge will count as one semester toward Greenwood Promise eligibility. Greenwood Edge applications will initially be made available to students through school guidance counselors and can also be accessed through a web link. Additional training opportunities will be explored as the Greenwood Edge begins generating momentum.
“The Greenwood Promise is committed to providing a tuition-free path to ensure Greenwood County students obtain the education needed to develop a highly-skilled workforce,” said Kris Burris, executive director of the Greenwood Promise. “We are honored to act as the fiscal agent for Greenwood Edge. Our support of this initiative further demonstrates our commitment to meeting the needs of local industries now and in the future.”