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FLCC looks to start pilot program that makes education available in rural communities and offers skills needed in the same community

Finger Lakes Community College is seeking local organizations to collaborate on a project to provide live online training at sites throughout the College’s service area of Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties.

FLCC is one of five community colleges from across the nation selected to share in a $1.9 million grant to design pilot programs to support rural students and promote economic growth through education and training.

By January 2022, FLCC hopes to begin a pilot program in which students can attend classes a short drive or walking distance from home and learn specific skills sought by an employer in that same community.

“Transportation and broadband come up over and over again in discussions about the factors that prevent people from taking advantage of training opportunities,” said Todd Sloane, FLCC’s director of workforce development. “This project is meant to help people get started on a path to upward mobility.”

The project targets training in advanced manufacturing, health care and education. Organizations are invited to fill out an online application available at

The College will provide all the equipment and instruction; partners would provide classroom and storage space as well as a staff member to serve as a point of contact. Organizations should send their information by Aug. 27. The College will select a partner and employer in September to prepare for the January 2022 launch.

Funding for the pilot comes from a share in the joint grant, awarded by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, Education Design Lab. Consultants met with FLCC faculty, staff, students and representatives from local organizations earlier this year to determine the attributes of a pilot project.

“The result of a very engaging dialog is represented by the acronym GRIT, which stands for growing rural infrastructure together,” Sloane said. “Our goals include helping people learn anywhere and learn quickly. Our programs will run for three to six months, so it does not take a long time to earn a credential.”

Another concept of GRIT is to assign a single individual, or concierge, who can advise students on further education and help with non-academic needs that might prevent them from completing a training program. Participants in the brainstorming sessions noted that individuals seeking to improve their situations often do not know where to get advice and assistance.

The pilot will run for three to nine months, and results will help the college determine the next steps. The long-term goal is to establish a network of host sites providing a variety of training that allows people to stay in their communities while improving the quality of their lives.

In addition to FLCC, Education Design Lab also selected the College of Eastern Idaho in Idaho Falls, Idaho; Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor, Maine; Washington State Community College in Marietta, Ohio; and Zane State Community College in Zanesville, Ohio.

FLCC will receive $20,000 to offset personnel costs related to work on the initiative, followed by $45,000 to help implement the pilot. The remainder of the College’s share of the grant funding covers the costs of services provided by Education Design Lab.

Anyone with questions about the GRIT initiative can contact Todd Sloane at FLCC’s Workforce and Career Solutions Office, [email protected]. An online information session is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 20 at 1:30 p.m. To register, visit