Lowe’s Foundation awards PBSC $1 million Gable Grant to expand skilled trades programs and develop construction trades innovation center

Palm Beach State College is one of 10 community and technical colleges nationwide to receive the first-ever round of Lowe’s Foundation Gable Grants to support skilled trades workforce development initiatives. The grants are the first in a five-year, $50 million commitment to help prepare 50,000 people for skilled trades careers. This investment will fund cutting-edge programs in appliance repair, carpentry, construction, electrical, HVAC and plumbing. 

Palm Beach State College received the grant based on its comprehensive plan to expand the impact of its degree and certificate programs in construction trades and management. Putting the grant’s mission into action, PBSC will reach out to residents throughout Palm Beach County to recruit, train and develop the next generation of skilled tradespeople, including groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the trades. PBSC aims to grow its number of graduates who are ready to build and revitalize homes, neighborhoods and infrastructure with the goal to increase Palm Beach County’s skilled workforce by 1,500 by 2028.  

“Our partnership with the Lowe’s Foundation paves a path to a better future for our young people through the College’s trades programs,” said PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D. “Serving this vital initiative, we are excited to provide this opportunity to our county, one that ensures career readiness and enhances the economic mobility of our students and their families. I would like to express my gratitude to the Lowe’s Foundation for its generosity and belief in our mission to transform lives and strengthen the community.”  

Students hone their skills in PBSC’s welding lab.

Key to PBSC’s plan is the creation of a unique training space on the Lake Worth campus. The Construction Trades Center for Workforce Innovation will simulate construction jobsite conditions, providing real-world experiences for students. The center will incorporate both residential and commercial construction sites—an innovative smart house and an office suite facility—and be equipped with all the tools and equipment needed to design, build, and renovate.

The Construction Trades Center for Workforce Innovation will be integrated into the 150,000-square-foot Education and Training Center, which houses the majority of the College’s industrial and technical programs. The PBSC programs directly supported by the grant train students to become building construction specialists and managers, architectural drafters, electricians, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians, smart home technology installers, engineering technicians and welders. The simulated jobsites will be continuously constructed and then torn down for the next classes to tackle. 

“We are proud to partner with the Lowe’s Foundation for its first-ever Gable Grant for the PBSC Construction Trades Center for Workforce Innovation,” said David A. Rutherford, vice president of advancement and CEO of The Foundation for Palm Beach State College. “By enhancing education and training, Palm Beach State and Lowe’s are introducing a ‘next generation in trades’ initiative that provides an essential pipeline of highly skilled professionals to local industries and the Palm Beach County workforce.”  

PBSC’s Residential and Commercial Electrician program lab

In addition to Palm Beach State College, the community and technical colleges awarded the 2023 Lowe’s Foundation Gable Grants include: Coconino County Community College (Arizona), Columbus Technical College (Georgia), Howard College-San Angelo (Texas), Ivy Tech Community College (Indiana), Madisonville Community College (Kentucky), Miami Dade College (Florida), MiraCosta College (California), Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Mississippi), and Southside Virginia Community College (Virginia).

“These deserving schools are driving transformation in the skilled trades workforce through sustainable and inclusive career pathways. We had many outstanding applicants for these grants, which speaks to the urgency needed to increase the capacity for skilled trades labor nationwide,” said Janice Dupré, Lowe’s executive vice president of human resources and chair of the Lowe’s Foundation. “Our grants are inclusive of all groups to ensure we achieve the overall goal of preparing 50,000 people for skilled trades careers in five years, including 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. We are confident that these college programs will strengthen the skilled trades infrastructure for years to come.”

In addition to these grants, the Lowe’s Foundation will invest at least $5 million more to assist community-based nonprofit organizations and national nonprofit partners with a strong local presence. This puts the foundation on pace to invest more than $12 million in 2023 as part of its $50 million, five-year commitment. 

PBSC partnership with U.S. Sugar yields instant jobs for grads

Six students recently graduated from U.S. Sugar’s three-year Industrial Skills Training Academy program.

During the program, the students were taught general education courses by Palm Beach State College Belle Glade campus faculty at the company’s Clewiston site through a College partnership with U.S. Sugar that began in 2019.

The students are Wesley Clayton Wetherington Jr.,  Ro’Maud Jakeem Porter, Aveary Alejandro Vargas, Colton Avant Brown Jr., William Salas and Pedro Castillo.

PBSC provides general education courses in mathematics and physics. Other training partners include representatives from companies that manufacture U.S. Sugar’s high-tech equipment. Students learn welding, machining, as well as electrical and financial management skills.

The ISTA program offers free tuition to qualified candidates. Students also get paid by U.S. Sugar while they are in the program and are offered a job when they successfully finish. Fifteen students have graduated from the academy since its inception.

Sustainability and Precision Ag are the Foundation of Florida Crystals’ Sweet Success

Shortly after the Fanjul family arrived in Florida from Cuba in 1959, they set up a sugar-production plant on 4,000 acres of land in Western Palm Beach County. Harvested by hand, the very first crop produced just 10,000 tons of sugar.

Six decades later, that modest operation now encompasses some 190,000 acres across nearly 5,000 individual fields. And the family’s company – now known as Florida Crystals – is part of the world’s largest refiner and marketer of cane sugar with annual production of more than 6 million tons.

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Community and Philanthropic Leaders Celebrate Education in Palm Beach County

March 16 – Palm Beach Gardens, FL – Yesterday, hundreds of community and philanthropic leaders convened to honor Palm Beach County education and share the importance of investing in today’s students as tomorrow’s leaders. The 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards, co-hosted by the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, Business Development Board of Palm Beach County (BDB) and School District of Palm Beach County, is a partnership to acknowledge those who have shaped the future and are inspiring students today.

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Palm Beach County High School Students Claim Their Future

January 31 – Palm Beach County, FL – The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County (BDB) and the School District of Palm Beach County hosted the 2023 Claim Your Future Showcase on January 31, an annual event that shows local high school students the diverse career paths available to them in Palm Beach County. Sponsored by Wells Fargo and located at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, the event included a presentation with various speakers and an exhibitor hall, which inspired 1,200 Palm Beach County students. 

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