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Colleges Celebrate Successful Completion of Energy Grant

Four colleges in North Dakota celebrated the completion of a six-year long, $24 million grant that resulted in thousands of trained individuals ready to fill crucial workforce needs in North Dakota.

Bismarck State College, Sitting Bull College, Turtle Mountain Community College, and Williston State College partnered to form the TREND Consortium, or Training for Regional Energy in North Dakota, in 2012. The four shared in two rounds of grants from the U.S. Department of Labor, a $14.6 million round in 2012, and a 2014 round worth an additional $9.9 million.

These grants, provided under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program, aimed to assist institutions in improving their delivery of education and career training programs that could be completed in two years or less. Bismarck State College was the lead institution for the grant, which President Dr. Larry Skogen said allowed schools to purchase equipment and upgrade facilities that will continue to benefit future students for years to come.

“With this, we were able to expand programs,” Skogen said. “We educated and trained a lot individuals who are out in the workforce now.”

More than 2,300 students received training in the 2012-2016 round of grant funding, and more than 2,200 students benefited from the 2014-2018 round. Turtle Mountain Community College was able to begin a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training program, with more than 100 people obtaining their CDL.

“They’re probably all over the country driving now,” said Dr. Jim Davis, President of TMCC.

He also emphasized the importance of the collaboration between tribal colleges and colleges in the North Dakota University System.

“If they hadn’t opened their doors, we wouldn’t be standing here,” he said.

Dr. John Miller, President of Williston State College, agreed. “They provided the critical mass and leadership for us to bring this project home,” he said.

Miller says the grant enabled WSC to double the enrollments in the college’s technical programs, and provided funding necessary for the development of expensive new technical labs. “The grant for Williston State College was transformational,” he said. He said the grant also helped the school transform numerous internal processes and connections with students, resulting in an updated advising system for all students at WSC.

Sitting Bull College Vice President Dr. Koreen Ressler said the grant enabled them to recruit more males into programs, increasing male enrollment at the school to 40% of students, up from 30% before the grants. Ressler says grant-funded programs at Sitting Bull College focused on construction and trades, and the school plans to continue those programs into the future.

“This really assisted us. We’re proud to be able to sustain these programs,” she said.

All four campus leaders spoke about the desire to continue their collaboration in the future.
For more information, contact Emily Cash, Project Director for the TREND Consortium, at 701-224-2410 or at Emily.Cash@bismarckstate.edu.

About Bismarck State College
Bismarck State College, an innovative community college in Bismarck, N.D., offers high quality education, workforce training, and enrichment programs reaching local and global communities. For more information visit www.bismarckstate.edu