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Wichita Community Foundation Commits $1M To Help City Deal With Workforce Issues

Students work at the former Wichita Area Technical College, now know as WSU Tech. The school is starting a program to help students relocate to Wichita.

The Wichita Community Foundation has created a $1 million fund to help the city deal with workforce issues.

The Talent Ecosystem Fund is meant to attack challenges identified by the Focus Forward project, according to a news release. Among those challenges is attracting a talented workforce to Wichita.

“This is the single largest commitment made by WCF in our 32 years as an organization,” foundation president and CEO Shelly Prichard said in a statement. “While the Talent Ecosystem Fund is not the only solution or outcome of our Focus Forward project … it represents the type of investment our community needs to ensure Wichita’s future success.”

The first grant will go to WSU Tech, formerly Wichita Area Technical College. It will receive $500,000 to create Wichita Promise MOVE.

The project will pay for living expenses, including housing and transportation, to potential WSU Tech students who live outside the Wichita area and need to relocate here. The first round of grant money will be aimed at students interested in becoming sheet metal mechanic majors.

The intent is to increase Wichita’s skilled workforce by making it easier for students to get training for specific high-wage, high-demand jobs.

The Wichita Community Foundation says it will make more grants in the future, although it is not currently accepting applications.

Tom Shine is director of news and public affairs at KMUW. Follow him at @thomaspshine.

Tom joined KMUW in 2017 after spending 37 years with The Wichita Eagle where he held a variety of reporting and editing roles. He also is host of The Range, KMUW’s weekly show about where we live and the people who live here. Tom is a board member of the Public Media Journalists Association, serving as small station representative, a volunteer coach for League 42 and an adjunct instructor in the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University.