ATC grant helps those hurt by Hurricane Michael

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Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Albany Technical College (ATC) is using an $8.3 million grant to help pay for people’s education. The goal is to help people who were affected by Hurricane Michael in 2018.

This money is specifically for people who can’t pay for school, and don’t have any access to financial aid.

The money covers around 20 counties in Southwest Georgia.

The focus is on those counties hit hardest by Hurricane Michael in 2018, including Dougherty, Decatur, and Seminole counties.

Michelle Williams oversees this grant money. She said with it, they’re looking to cover any expense that may be a barrier. Covering things like tuition, book fees, uniforms childcare, and help with transportation.

Michelle Williams oversees the grant money.
Michelle Williams oversees the grant money.(WALB)

“They may have lost their job due to Hurricane Michael or they’re needing to do a career change, they cannot access financial aid. That’s where we step in,” said Williams.

Two of the main qualifications are that you have to have a low to moderate household income and cannot have any access to financial aid.

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas asked if they knew how many people qualified for this money.

Chris Cohilas  is the Dougherty County Commission Chairman.
Chris Cohilas is the Dougherty County Commission Chairman.(WALB)

“To have $8.3 million dollars for potentially free school, that’s a blessing,” said Cohilas.

Williams said in Dougherty County, that have three zip codes they’re focusing on. Those are 31705, 31701, and 31707.

The demographics for 31705 and 31701 are majority African American, male, and have a median household income of less than $30,000.

For both, half of the people who live there have no employment earnings.

“We’re looking for the population who want to go to school or go back to school and need financial assistance,” said Williams.

With Dougherty County needing to fill nearly 150 positions, Commissioner Clinton Johnson said this could be a pipeline to fill those positions.

Clinton Johnson is a Dougherty County commissioner.
Clinton Johnson is a Dougherty County commissioner.(WALB)

“It could be a really good hiring tool to have a laborer without a GED to get a GED from Albany Tech,” said Johnson.

This is a 4-year grant. One year in, they’ve helped about 135 people but need more because if they don’t use the money, they lose it.

To see if you qualify, click here.

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