Eastern Arkansas' STRIVE vocational educational program Tuesday received a $175,000 financial boost from the Delta Regional Authority. DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill made the investment announcement along with state and local officials in Marianna at the former Anna Strong Elementary School.
STRIVE – or Special Training in Remedial Instruction and Vocational Education – will provide students ages 14-19 from nine public school districts in Phillips, Lee, Monroe and St. Francis counties with a career and technical skills development program. The program will be offered in partnership with East Arkansas Community College and Crowley's Ridge Technical institute, both in Forrest City.
Course offerings will include specialized training in construction trades, cosmetology, computer technology, culinary arts, welding, medical professions, and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning field.
“This is another opportunity for students to be successful in their educational and professional careers,” commented Masingill. “ STRIVE Institute provides further tools and job training that are necessary for our youth to be successful in obtaining a job once they graduate and contributing to their local economy. This regional collaboration will continue our efforts in the Delta region to grow a pipeline of skilled workers for our businesses and communities.”
The DRA funding will be used to construct a new roof and provide other repairs to the old Anna Strong Elementary School, which will eventually house some of the classrooms for the program.
During their tenure with the program, participating students will be able to access some summer work and internship opportunities in the 4-county coverage area. Every student will work directly with a caseworker during his or her time in the program.
“The STRIVE Institute of Technology has the potential to increase low high school graduation rates in high poverty school districts in the state,” said Arkansas Senator Jack Crumbly, executive director for STRIVE. “The goal of this school is to decrease educational deficits and help these students improve their ability to earn money for their needs and assist them in developing positive options for their lives.”
“To secure Arkansas's economic future, we must give our students the opportunity to obtain technical training and valuable work experience,” stated U.S. Senator Mark Pryor. “I appreciate the Delta Regional Authority's steadfast commitment to preparing our kids – the future of our state – to succeed in today's global economy.”
The DRA is a federal-state partnership authorized by Congress to help create jobs, build communities and improve lives in the Delta.
The Associated Press also contributed to this article.