These Are the Most Interesting Community College Earmarks for 2023

The return of earmarks in Washington, D.C., means millions for community college projects. Here are a few of the most interesting budget allocations.
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  • Earmarks have returned to Congress. And many members of Congress have designated funding for higher education as part of the 2023 fiscal year budget.
  • Congressional earmarks occur after the president submits an annual budget to Congress for review. Members of Congress can add items to be funded by various agencies during that review process.
  • The 2023 budget includes many earmarks for community colleges.

Earmarks have returned Congress, and community colleges across the country are set to benefit from millions of dollars tacked onto a recently passed spending package.

Congressional earmarks occur after the president submits an annual budget to Congress for review, BestColleges previously reported. Members of Congress can add items to be funded by various federal agencies during that review process, "earmarking" those projects to be funded as part of the budget.

Earmarks were banned for a decade before being revived in 2021, and the recent omnibus package includes billions for projects across the country. Many of those projects are centered around colleges and universities — with dozens of earmarks specifically going toward community colleges.

Here's a look at a few interesting earmarks for community colleges in 2023:

Student support at the San Diego Community College District

LGBTQ+ students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are set to get additional support from the San Diego Community College District, which received a pair of earmarks to help.

U.S. Rep. Sara Jacobs (D) designated $1.2 million for the San Diego Community College District to set up centers to support LGBTQ+ students. And U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas (D) secured $1.2 million for the district to offer support services for DACA recipients.

Food truck learning at the Los Angeles Community College District

A $1 million earmark from U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D) will go toward "mobile work-based workforce programs" at the Los Angeles Community College District.

That will mean a "mobile food truck laboratory" for culinary students, according to the district's funding requests, as well as a mobile "maker-space" for design students. The maker-space will include 3D printers and computers and travel mostly to high schools. The food truck will serve as "a traveling classroom and expose students to the culinary arts and food truck entrepreneurship courses."

"These highly visible and customized portable classrooms will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to provide relevant education and training to the community, in the community," the funding request reads.

Student textbook assistance at Contra Costa College

California's Costa Community College District received a $1 million earmark from U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D) for an "open educational resources" project.

That funding will go toward helping students afford textbooks, according to a press release from DeSaulnier. Contra Costa's open education resources are free or low-cost online teaching and learning resources, according to the district's website, including lectures, assignments, textbooks, and even full courses.

"On behalf of our Contra Costa Community College District, we want to thank both Congressman Mark DeSaulnier and Senator Alex Padilla for their support of our proposal to expand the number of courses we offer using Open Educational Resources (OER)," Contra Costa interim Chancellor Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said in the release.

"We know that the cost of textbooks and other classroom material are often higher than enrollment fees in our California community college system. By making these materials available in the public domain at no-cost, we are reducing the financial barrier of obtaining an affordable higher education for our students and learners across the globe."

High-demand tech training across the country

Several community colleges received earmarks to close the skills gap in high-demand tech fields like cybersecurity, electric vehicle manufacturing, and robotics, reflecting a wider trend of government and business leaders looking to community colleges to close the skills gap.

Austin Community College in Texas received $1,467,542 for cybersecurity training and equipment as part of an earmark from U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D). Another significant earmark for cybersecurity training from former U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) went to Suffolk County Community College. That college received $1,435,000 to set up a cybersecurity program and buy equipment, according to federal data.

Wake Technical Community College in North Carolina received $939,041 from U.S. Rep. Deborah Ross (D) for "electric vehicle technical training," according to federal data. Community colleges are stepping up as key partners in electric vehicle training, BestColleges previously reported. The American Association of Community Colleges recently announced the creation of an apprenticeship hub alongside Tesla and Panasonic to train electric vehicle workers.

Students at the College of the Canyons in California will soon have access to a robotics production lab and simulation center, thanks to a $1 million earmark from U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia (R). That funding will "go toward purchasing advanced manufacturing equipment necessary to provide training and increase capacity in advanced manufacturing," for the simulation center and robotics lab.

That training center is set to serve more than 300 students every year, according to the release.

"This project will continue the college's demonstrated history of creating a supportive community network to help students successfully navigate pathways from high school to college and eventually to employment in high-wage, high-demand fields," said Harriet Happel, the College of the Canyons dean of career education, integrative learning, and the Employment Center at the college.