ABOVE PHOTO: Dr. Jill Biden and VP Joe Biden speaking to crowds at CCP. (Photo by Bill Z. Foster)
Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden came to Community College of Philadelphia to announce a grant designed to truly connect college and the workplace.
By Denise Clay
When he graduated from high school, Nasir Venable’s original intention was to go off to Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.
But with expenses totaling $42,000, and that’s without books and transportation, the sticker shock proved to be a little too much.
“It would have been difficult for me to afford,” he said.
But since he still wanted to go to college, his parents suggested that he think about the Community College of Philadelphia as an alternative.
They also steered him toward the school’s 50th Anniversary Scholars Program, which made things a whole lot easier, Venable said. The scholarship, which is geared toward students eligible for federal Pell Grants, is a last dollar scholarship that covers tuition and fees that other federal and state grants don’t.
It’s allowed him to get comfortable about the collegiate experience without going into a whole lot of debt, Venable said.
“It’s definitely been a good experience for me,” he said.
Venable appeared with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden on Monday as they announced the creation of the America’s Promise Challenge grants program on Monday. The $100 million competitive grant program will provide funding to community colleges that partner with local businesses to provide tuition-free or last dollar scholarships for education and training programs geared toward helping the local economy.
As a community college professor, the program is near and dear to the heart of Jill Biden. Community College of Philadelphia was the first college to heed President Barack Obama’s call to make community colleges tuition free in 2009, so announcing the program there made sense, she said.
“Community colleges are a community benefit in the truest sense,” said Jill Biden. Programs like America’s Promise allow them to provide the most help possible to the communities they serve,” she said.
“Students like Nasir are why we’re here today to celebrate the value that Community Colleges have to our communities,” continued Biden. “Community colleges offer a door to the middle class and allow people to do better for themselves.”
Programs like America’s Promise allow the country to make an investment in its people, Vice President Biden said. There is a direct correlation between the money invested in education and the increase in a nation’s Gross National Product, he said.
Using community colleges to make that investment is a win-win proposition for everyone, Vice President Biden said.
“Community colleges are our country’s best kept secret,” he said. “They’re the best place to bring workers and students together. We need a more educated workforce and community colleges are the best way to get that.”
The program will be financed through the H-1B program and will be administered through the federal Department of Labor.