University Relations and Communications


November 28, 2016

 City College at MSU Billings

CCMSUB Awarded $1.28 million America’s Promise Grant

Educating Toward Economic Diversity Partnership, led by Northern Wyoming Community College District, realizes $5 million award



Lisa Skriner, director of Workforce Development/Grants, City College, 247-3055

University Relations, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Displaced energy sector workers and veterans will have more opportunities to obtain tuition-free training programs and associate-level degrees at City College at Montana State University Billings due to a generous $1.28 million America’s Promise grant.


The grant, provided through the United States Labor Department and funded via HI-B visa program, will provide over $111 million dollars to 23 regional workforcer partnerships in 28 states. Seven of those represent economic regions that cross state boundaries.


The funding to City College was one of those. Monies given to CCMSUB was part of the Educating Toward Economic Diversity (ETED) Partnership, led by the Northern Wyoming Community College district, which has been awarded nearly $5 million and one of only seven awards to community college applicants.


Dr. Clifford Coppersmith, dean of City College at MSUB, explained their team approach with the project and community partners, which included Big Sky Economic Development, to find solutions to local and regional needs within the system’s higher educational institutions.


“We wanted to find student centered grant funding, in particular, to facilitate dislocated energy sector workers’ efforts to pursue career focused training and education,” Coppersmith said. “Working with Big Sky ED we repackaged our previous application for the TechHire Grant to enhance our focus on information technology and health information technology areas that continue to experience high demand from local employers.  This grant represents a real regional team approach to developing solutions to our local economic and educational challenges.”


The America’s Promise grant is designed to increase opportunities through tuition-free training for middle-to high-skilled occupations and industries, refer employees with prior work experience, including military veterans for an evaluation of their skills through Credit for Prior learning methods which may accelerate training, and utilize evidence-based sector strategies to increase employability, employment earnings and outcomes of job seekers.


BillingsWorks Director Brittney Souza, a partner on the grant, explained their role in bringing many community businesses together in support of the grant and said their supporting role would continue know that CCMSUB had the funds to move forward.


“This grant in particular is very important because our regional community has been negatively impacted by the downturn in the energy sector,” Souza said. “If we can get those people retrained in fields, like IT, where they will have a job in 10-15 years, that is going to be great. It’s going to fill gaps in local business needs.”


The other participating colleges within the ETED are Gillete College/Sheridan College, Casper College and Laramie County Community College.