New "Skill Up" program trains students of low income

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A new pilot program at Metropolitan Community College called Skill Up is providing job training assistance to food stamp recipients.

“This is really going to better their lives and get them off food stamps,” Dean of Student Development at MCC Business & Technology, Dr. Ryan Meador said.

The community college is just one of two community colleges in Missouri working with the Missouri Community College Association, MU Extension and the Missouri Department of Social Services Family Support Division. The program hopes to expand statewide in the future.

“We will help students where they are and help them get to where they're going,” Penn Valley Dean of Student Development Yvette Sweeney said. “This program will start a student at a non- credit level and they can continue to stack their credentials on top of each other at each level, gaining skills that make them marketable in our community as far as jobs.”

SkillUP Missouri is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.

Through the program, participants could qualify for tuition, class support and job training free of charge.

“Being able to have a set of skills where you are employment-ready really does change the face of what your future looks like,” Sweeney said.

“Once the student starts, it's just a little extra support as they get along the way,” Meador said. “It's one more person checking on them, saying hey do you need help. And sometimes that's the big thing is someone saying I'm here to help you and if you need something let me know.

Once students complete the training program, the Full Employment Council works with students to help them find a job.

“This type of program can be the funds and the impetus and the support to help that turn the page and be able to have a different opportunity than perhaps what was available to them before,” Sweeney said.

SNAP recipients in the Kansas City, Missouri area can learn more or enroll in the SkillUP program by calling 816-604-1000 or contacting the Full Employment Council and MU Extension locations.

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