Program to help residents find long-term, living-wage jobs gets financial boost

WLOS Broadcast July 27, 2022 — More money will be coming to a local community college so it can continue to help low-income residents find jobs.

A-B Tech Community College announced Wednesday that the school is receiving $150,000 from Bank of America in continued support of the college's Skills Training Employment Program (STEP).

The money will be used to enhance the program over the next two years. Bank of America also awarded $50,000 last year for STEP, which provides low-income residents with clearly defined career pathways and placement services for long-term, living-wage jobs.

STEP is a partnership between A-B Tech and the Health and Human Services Department in Buncombe County.

It provides people currently enrolled in the food assistance program to come through the skills program for training — which then helps them get into jobs that earn a living wage.

Each year, the STEP program serves more than 200 clients.

It’s a service that administrators say is important for the community — and they couldn’t be more thankful for the support they’re getting from Bank of America.

“These funds help us to be nimble and to react based on what our students need to keep on the course that they’re trying to do and pursuing their degree or whatever training that they’re in,” said Deborah Wright, VP for economic & workforce development & continuing education.

Specifically, this money can be used to give laptops to some of the participants or help them with their cars — or even rent.

“We are beyond grateful for this support from Bank of America,” said A-B Tech President John Gossett. “It funds nearly half of our STEP program and supports the expansion of critical services our STEP team provides in partnership with Buncombe County’s Department of Health and Human Services to help economically disadvantaged residents transition into living-wage jobs and increase the pool of skilled workers for area employers.”

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