Absher Foundation Funds New Dual Credit Credentials Program
Southeastern Illinois College has secured a five-year agreement with the Absher Charitable Foundation, Inc. of White County, Illinois, to fund an expansive dual credit, dual certificate career program to help local industry remain strong.
The Absher Foundation has pledged up to nearly $600,000 to help pay for the cost of dual credit courses to be held at the new Stanford D. Williams Career and Training Center in Carmi, Illinois, at SIC’s Branch site.
A unique incentive to the program is that each high school senior who completes both certificates over two years of school will receive a $1,000 check from the Foundation in addition to two workplace ready certificates.
“This incentive program and cost-sharing between private and public entities is truly novel, and SIC is so very excited to be a part of this special project to be launched beginning Fall 2023,” said SIC President Jonah Rice. “I don’t know of too many models like this around the country, and so the Absher Foundation has really helped blaze some new trails with this program, and our high school partners at Carmi-White County High School and Norris City-Omaha-Enfield High School have been amazing at helping us work with regional industry to determine need and supply.”
The two high schools, college, Carmi City Economic Development, and Absher board members all came together at the David L. Stanley White County Center and site of the new Stanford D. Williams Career and Training Center to sign this agreement.
“The Norris City-Omaha-Enfield School District is excited to reap the benefits of such a generous donation from the Absher Foundation and their willingness to work with SIC in order to help benefit NCOE students with much needed educational tools and opportunities. Investing in our students and community is invaluable!” said Matt Vollman, NCOE Superintendent who could not be present for the signing.
“Carmi-White County CUSD #5 is thankful to be a part of such a great community that all work together to support students and the entire community,” said Jarrod Newell, Carmi-White County Superintendent. “The vision, dedication, and giving by the Absher Foundation and SIC will provide great opportunities for our students and the entire community. We are excited to see the new opportunities and experiences this special project will provide our students and the new doors that will be open to them!”
Clinton Wolff, Carmi-White County High School Counselor, added, “We are very excited for the Stanford Williams Career and Training Center and we are very thankful for the generous donation from the Absher Charitable Foundation. We have partnered with SIC on many projects in the past and we looked forward to the new partnership and course offerings that the vocational center will offer our students at CWCHS.”
SIC’s Vice-President for Academic and Student Services Dr. Karen Weiss was “instrumental in this process,” according to Rice. Weiss and Rice met with many industry partners in the area to determine specific needs they had for employees including basic skills, special skills, and workplace readiness traits.
“We have created a curriculum suited for regional industry with cutting edge training in electric vehicles plus fabrication, mechanics, and workplace ready skills like communication skills, time management, and other soft skills employers say they need,” said Weiss.
Officials from the Absher Foundation were very positive about the agreement.
“The Absher Charitable Foundation would like to thank SIC and the local high schools for the opportunity to participate in this incredible program,” said Chairman Alvin Fritschle. “Over the next several years, there will be a large number of individuals retiring from professional service in our area. This will create new job openings for graduates who can then step into those positions. This program will provide participating students with the foundation to pursue careers and grow a local workforce within our community.”
College officials said that this plan would be great to replicate by other foundations and entities.
“It’s a pretty simple approach: find out what industry needs, create it, work with great partners, and secure a noble entity like the Absher Foundation that wants to see immediate, fruitful investment in students for the good of the community,” Rice said.
About the Absher Charitable Foundation, Inc.
The Absher Charitable Foundation, Inc. was established in 2019 through the generous vision of Jane Absher and her late son Ron. The mission of the Absher Charitable Foundation is to “make White County a better place to live through charitable support of initiatives that advance healthcare and education.” For more information, visit absherfoundation.com.
About Southeastern Illinois College
Southeastern Illinois College was founded in 1960 and offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs. At $106 per credit hour, SIC boasts one of the lowest tuition rates in the region. More than 70% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarships. SIC serves 4,100 full and part-time students per year, includes locations in Harrisburg and Carmi, and employs approximately 150 full and part-time employees. For more information, visit sic.edu.