Lowe’s Announces $8 Million in Community College Grants

The grants will go toward training workers in key fields like construction, HVAC, electrical, and other industries facing workforce shortages.
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Published on July 31, 2023
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  • The Lowe's Foundation announced $8 million in grants to community and technical colleges nationwide as part of a workforce development initiative.
  • The grants will help colleges train students in high-demand industries like electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and other skilled trades.
  • Many employers and contractors have struggled to find skilled workers in recent years despite sky-high demand.
  • The grants are part of a larger Lowe's Foundation commitment to train 50,000 skilled workers over the next five years, with a particular focus on historically underserved students.

On July 27, the Lowe's Foundation unveiled $8 million in Gable Grants to community and technical colleges to boost workforce development as part of an ongoing effort to combat nationwide workforce shortages.

The grants will go toward preparing students for high-demand industries like appliance repair, carpentry, construction, electrical, HVAC, and plumbing, according to a Lowe's Foundation press release.

Community and technical colleges receiving funding are:

  • Coconino County Community College in Arizona, which will create more lab space to train students in construction, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical fields
  • Columbus Technical College in Georgia, which will boost its mobile unit and train students in rural areas
  • Howard College San Angelo in Texas, which will create a new center for its pre-apprenticeship electrical program and its soon-to-launch plumbing program. That plumbing program will be the only one of its kind offered by a college in West Texas, according to the release.
  • Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, which is developing a short-term HVAC training pilot program
  • Madisonville Community College in Kentucky, which plans to streamline a combined HVAC and electrical program for students in the rural areas surrounding the county
  • Miami Dade College in Florida, which is launching programs in construction, HVAC and electrical through its Construction Trade Institute
  • MiraCosta College in California, which will develop two HVAC and electrician certification programs for first-generation college students
  • Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, which is setting up a construction trades training program for learners at a local correctional facility. Community colleges are often key partners in training incarcerated students. Mississippi Gulf Coast also plans to provide scholarships and internships for students in its skills trades programs with the Lowe's Foundation funding.
  • Palm Beach State College in Florida, which will use the funding to set up real-world training experiences for students and expand a center for the construction workforce
  • Southside Virginia Community College, which plans to use the funding to renovate its lab for HVAC and electrical technicians

The $8 million in grants are part of a larger initiative announced by the Lowe's Foundation earlier this year.

The foundation committed $50 million to train 50,000 workers over the next five years with a focus on training people in skilled trades and diversifying the workforce. A previous Lowe's Foundation release noted that more than half-a-million new skilled workers will be needed to meet demand over the next year, and 85% of contract workers report difficulties finding qualified workers.

The Lowe's Foundation plans to invest an additional $5 million to community and national nonprofits in addition to the grants to community colleges, according to the July 27 release.

Janice Dupré, executive vice president of human resources at Lowe's and chair of the Lowe's Foundation, said the grants will help train "groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the trades, such as women, people of color, people in rural areas and individuals participating in second-chance programs."

"These deserving schools are driving transformation in the skilled trades workforce through sustainable and inclusive career pathways," Dupré said in the release. "We had many outstanding applicants for these grants, which speaks to the urgency needed to increase the capacity for skilled trades labor nationwide."

Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, said in the release that the program "will empower community colleges to scale existing programs, upgrade technology and infrastructure, establish new initiatives and increase their impact as they strive to meet the needs of their communities."

"The support for community and technical colleges provided by Gable Grants from the Lowe's Foundation will enable the expansion of the innovative, responsive and in-demand skilled trades training offerings at the nation's community colleges," Bumphus said in the release.

Community colleges often have robust ties to local employers and serve as vital points of affordable access to higher education in their communities — and as a result, local, state, and federal officials have looked to two-year public schools to address nationwide workforce shortages in recent years.

Community colleges are set to play a key role in the White House's recently released workforce development roadmap.