Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public educational institution in Virginia, one of the largest community colleges in the U.S., and with students from more than 180 countries, also one of the most internationally diverse. Closer to home, NOVA plays a vital role in addressing the skills gaps in Northern Virginia and creating a well-trained workforce for local employers.
That includes participating in Virginia’s FastForward program, which partners with community colleges such as NOVA to offer short-term workforce development classes. Students are trained for careers in in-demand fields such as healthcare, IT, business services as well as other skilled trades. In turn, this builds a talent pipeline for employers in the region. These six to 12-week classes, offered through the NOVA Workforce continuing education program, are designed so students can receive training and earn industry credentials while working.
As part of its $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, Bank of America is providing a $1 million grant to create a jobs initiative in the region in partnership with NOVA. The funding will help NOVA develop new workforce programs and enhance existing ones, all with the goal of better preparing students for high-paying jobs that local employers are looking to fill. FastForward covers only about two-thirds of the costs of classes, and the grant will enable NOVA to provide additional financial aid.
This bank funding also supports the nonprofit Virginia Ready Initiative, which works with community colleges and FastForward programs to re-skill and upskill Virginians by providing financial assistance for training and classes leading to credentials, primarily in the medical, information technology and coding fields. During the pandemic, VA Ready provided $1,000 each to state residents who had completed the FastForward program and lost their jobs.
Altogether, this jobs initiative will help ensure that Virginia students can embark on meaningful careers paying family-sustaining wages — and that the community can prosper through a well-trained workforce.