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Bridging the Gap for Low-Income Students Pursuing Trade Certifications at Valencia College


The Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW) and Valencia College announced a strategic

partnership to support students of ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed)

families. The focal point of the announcement was a $1,000,000 investment by HFUW to support low income students at Valencia College’s Center for Accelerated Training Northwest facility in the Pine Hills area through a “Live United Scholarship.”


“Certified workers in trades such as welding, carpentry, and distribution warehouse operations are in high demand, and can often pay in the $17 to $22 per hour range. Getting this certification can be life-changing for an ALICE family who is struggling to pay for even their basic needs with minimum wage part-time jobs,” said Jeff Hayward, President & CEO, Heart of Florida United Way. “However, for most students, putting food on the table and being able to make rent payments comes first, especially if they have children. Stepping away from a job to complete a 12-week certification is next to impossible, even though the results can yield higher wages and a better career. That’s what we hope to do – provide the financial boost for basic needs so that a student can take advantage of this career-altering, life-changing program.” Students accepted into the Live United Scholarship program will receive a living stipend of $125 per week for each week of their certification. Training programs range from four to 22 weeks in specialties like welding, carpentry, distribution operations tech, residential maintenance tech, CDL, industrial automation tech and electronic board assembly.

Valencia anticipates being able to assist 200 students per year with this program.

Funding for this initiative is from a historic $20 million gift from philanthropist and author

MacKenzie Scott. The funding was the largest single gift HFUW has ever received in the

organization’s 83-year history.

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