New funding helping students go back to school, start new careers

Medical objects
Posted at 4:13 PM, Mar 01, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - Funding recently approved by the General Assembly is helping some people start new careers during the pandemic.

The new VA Ready State Aid Fund helps cover the cost of tuition for students looking to enroll in one of 34 credential programs offered by community colleges in Virginia.

VA Ready is a nonprofit established last summer to help retrain people who lost their jobs or had hours reduced due to the pandemic.

Through the VA Ready program, participants can receive a $1,000 incentive for completing the courses, which include in-demand fields like healthcare, manufacturing and technology.

They also work to connect their scholars to job opportunities.

"VA Ready is unique because we are a business-led organization," said CEO Caren Merrick, "We have 24 business partners. Some of the best companies in Virginia: Bank of America, Dominion Energy, Carilion Clinics, Sentara Healthcare, PWc and these companies have jobs, and they are posting their jobs at VA Ready's jobs board, and we're also promoting open positions from these companies."

Grace Coronel completed the program in December, going through the certified medical assistant program at Tidewater Community College.

"It was completely paid for through the grant, so I just had to study," said Coronel.

She found a job before even graduating.

"The experience was amazing," said Coronel, "I found a job in Chesapeake Regional hospital, and now I'm moving on as a medical assistant at Bon Secours."

Since launching in August, more than 1,400 people have enrolled in the VA Ready program.

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