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RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) — North Carolina is going to use more federal dollars to help two groups that are important to the state’s future: community college students and new teachers.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday that $14.5 million from the Federal Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools funds would be repurposed to help students complete their certifications through financial aid and to provide training and support for new teachers.

Here’s how those dollars break down:

  • $7.5 million in funding for the Finish Line Grants program for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 academic years. This program, created in 2018, provides grants to community college students who are at least halfway to their certificates but facing significant and unexpected expenses that might interfere with that coursework.
  • $5 million to the NC Community College System to continue providing financial aid for community college students completing short-term training programs in a high-demand field.
  • $2 million to the UNC System for the NC New Teacher Support Program to help teachers through the 2023-24 school year. This program provides coaching and professional development support to beginning teachers across the state. 
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (Julia Wall/The News & Observer via AP)

Finish Line Grants are the centerpiece of this plan. State officials say they have awarded $4.7 million to more than 5,400 students in the past four years. The program now will move from the Department of Commerce to the North Carolina Community College System.

“This new funding will help even more students better their lives by making sure a hospital bill or car repair doesn’t stop them from finishing their training,” Cooper said in the release.

Officials cite their “First in Talent” plan as important to get people through these postsecondary programs. The infusion of new jobs for Toyota’s battery plant, Boom Supersonic and VinFast’s auto plant in Chatham County and others will bring tens of thousands of new residents in the next decade and beyond. Those jobs will need technical training, and so will the positions required to house and supply those residents.

In August 2020, using GEER I funds, Cooper allocated $15 million towards this type of financial aid, which has now supported more than 21,000 students to enroll in training programs, the release said. The state budget provides $6 million through 2024 to help with that, too.

“They represent an example of our state’s commitment to investing in our talented people, so that we can meet the workforce needs of today and tomorrow,” North Carolina Department of Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said in the release.

The NC New Teacher Support Program is administered through the University of North Carolina System and coordinated by East Carolina University. Since 2014, the program has supported more than 5,700 beginning teachers across 83 school districts and public charter schools.

“Governor Cooper’s commitment to support the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program represents a thoughtful investment at a critical time for school districts, teachers, and most importantly, students,” said Patrick Conetta, director of NC NTSP. “NC NTSP acknowledges the governor’s ongoing commitment to ensure a sound and basic education is afforded to all children in North Carolina by providing induction support to the state’s early career educators.”