COLUMBIA, S.C. — Columbia Housing Authority (CHA) and Midlands Technical College (MTC) have established a partnership with the intended purpose of addressing CHA residents' impediments to economic self-sufficiency by providing access to education, workforce training, and job placement opportunities.
The partnership establishes a program in which CHA will recruit eligible residents and assist them in enrollment, financial aid, and admissions paperwork at MTC.
"Education is extremely critical when it comes to you know creating options for yourself, formal education provides for you what not having formal education you know couldn't provide for you," says Yvonda Bean, CEO of Columbia Housing.
The technical college would provide a streamlined referral process for CHA residents for applying and enrollment, and beginning in Spring Semester 2023, offer free tuition and fees for eligible students.
"This is going to be a game-changer for the residents to know that you can get an education at no cost to further your career…I mean this will take some of the residents from where they are to the next level," says Regina Brown, former Columbia Housing resident.
"You see young kids in this neighborhood, a Lil boy on the big wheel right back here, I believe that's what gone up for that generation because if I had my grand here right now, and if they asked me mamaw where can I go to college, man I'm eager to tell them, I don't want them to stay with a 12th-grade education, you want to move on beyond it," says Elaine Caldwell, resident.
"Many families we serve have not experienced anything outside of where they are currently, so being able to partner with Midlands Technology College is going to give them increased exposure, and access to opportunities that they can only dream about, some of them don't dream about them because again they've not seen it," says Bean.
Both CHA and MTC will share possible costs for any additional training and supportive service needs identified for residents enrolled in the program. Case management and follow-up will be combined with access to job training and education in the areas where eligible resident students have expressed an interest.
The signed a memorandum of understanding between CHA and MTC is effective through October 30, 2025.
The enrollment process has begun and so far 5% of residents have enrolled in classes.