The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $300,000 grant to the Maricopa Community Colleges to enhance The East Valley Veterans Education Center, to be located at 2055 S. Cottonwood Drive, near the corner of Broadway and Price Roads, Tempe. The grant was secured through the efforts of U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell.
Creation of the Education Center means that for the first time, East Valley veterans can obtain guidance to pursue higher education in one location. The Cottonwood Drive facility contains more than 5,000 square feet of space, which will be used for classrooms, an office, a student lounge and space where various services will be provided to students. It is scheduled to open in January.
“Soldiers who enter active duty, or veterans who return from war, should know that they won’t fall behind academically, professionally, or financially when they return home to civilian life,” said Mitchell. “We have a responsibility to make good on our promise to our servicemen and women that the military will help open doors to new opportunity and achievement. I’m proud to have worked with Maricopa Community Colleges to make the East Valley Veterans Education Center a reality and hope it will serve as a model for others around the country.”
Of the project’s $500,000 total cost, 60% is being funded by the federal government, while 40% is being funded by local sources. The grant is designed to help veterans enroll in and complete postsecondary education, and may be used to purchase equipment and technology.
“Our goal is to create an easily accessible place where veterans can obtain the information they need to quickly access the educational benefits they deserve at the college of their choice,” said Dr. Chris Bustamante, president of Rio Salado College, the lead institution among the five Maricopa Community Colleges participating in the project. “The center also will provide a place where veterans can meet, share their experiences, and help each other transition to civilian life.
The Education Center also will provide space for workshops, including sessions on academic and career advisement, resume-writing and job interview skills and peer-to-peer counseling. In addition to referring veterans to the Maricopa Community Colleges, the center will provide referral services to other higher education providers, depending on the veterans’ plans.
The other Maricopa Community Colleges participating in the project are Chandler-Gilbert, GateWay, Mesa and Scottsdale Community Colleges. Project partners include: Arizona Department of Veterans Affairs; Phoenix VA Health Care System; U.S. Department of Labor, Veterans Employment and Training Service; and the Arizona Department of Employment Security.
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