Dr. James Lombella, North-West regional president of the Connecticut Community Colleges and Eileen Peltier, dean of workforce development and continuing education for Asnuntuck, Northwestern Connecticut and Tunxis Community Colleges, traveled to Capitol Hill in February to represent the 12 Connecticut Community Colleges as part of a 2020 Skills Summit organized by the National Skills Coalition.

They were joined by CT Community College regional presidents Drs. Rob Steinmetz and Thomas Coley at the advocacy event, which draws leadership in post-secondary education, community-based programming, and labor from across the country.

 Lombella and Peltier met with staff from the office of Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Joe Courtney to provide updates on the community colleges and seek support for Pell grants for students in non-credit programs that provide industry licensure and credentials.

“This was a great opportunity to talk with legislators about supporting Connecticut residents who are pursuing their education by giving them better access to financial aid funds for non-credit and short-term community college programs that are critical to our economy,” said Lombella.  

“Expanding access to Pell grants would be a game-changer for Connecticut community college students enrolled in non-credit career training programs who are looking to start careers in a number of in-demand fields,” added Peltier.

Some of the Asnuntuck, Northwestern CT and Tunxis programs that could be eligible if legislation was passed include Certified Sterile Processing Technician, Certified Nurse Aide, Certified Professional Medical Coder, Certified Inpatient Coder, Patient Care Technician, Medical Administrative Assistant, Medical Assistant, Ophthalmic Assistant, Patient Care Technician, Pharmacy Technician, Phlebotomy Technician, and Veterinary Assistant. Similar programs at the other CT Community Colleges would also become eligible.

With more than 28,000 members representing organizations in 50 states, National Skills Coalition is governed by a board of directors drawn from business, labor, community-based organizations, the public workforce system, and community colleges, including the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities. It engages in organizing, advocacy and communications to advance state and federal policies that support investment in training and skill development of America’s workforce.

Combined, Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Northwestern CT Community College in Winsted and Tunxis Community College in Farmington serve more than 18,000 credit and continuing education students each year, 6,000 of which are enrolled in short-term health certification programs and courses that are not offered for college credit and are ineligible for Pell grants. Both colleges are currently accepting registrations for non-credit workforce programs. For more information on programs at Asnuntuck, call 860.253.3034 or visit asnuntuck.edu. For more on Northwestern CT, call 860.738.6484 or visit nwcc.edu. For information on Tunxis, call 860.773.1448, or visit tunxis.edu.

Photo: Dr. James Lombella (left) and Eileen Peltier spoke with Rep. Joe Courtney during their meetings on Capitol Hill.

ACC building