Program aims to help local trade students with barriers to finishing school

Local News

One student in the LIFT program is a mother who's having trouble making ends meet while juggling education and providing for her family

SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – There’s a new program benefitting trade school students in Mahoning, Trumbull and Mercer counties called LIFT — Lifting Individuals for the Trades. It can take the stress out of schooling for some.

The medical assistant program at the Hope Center for Arts and Technology in Sharon has a student who’s the first recipient for LIFT. Just before Christmas, the anonymous student nearly dropped out.

“The irony is she doesn’t want the help, but she needs the help and she’s very thankful for it,” said Tom Roberts, with HopeCAT.

The student is a local mother still on pace to graduate in June. She had trouble making ends meet while juggling education and providing for her family — exactly what LIFT wants to help with.

“This is now on a personal level,” said Art Daly, with Eastern Gateway Community College. “Hey, if I can’t afford to work for $10 an hour, I’m going to get help.”

“We can step in, help you with that while you’re training for the trades,” said Kyle English, with the Community Foundation of Western PA & Eastern Ohio — where the money comes from.

Statistics say roughly 30% of students will hit a barrier, forcing them to stop their education. LIFT can remove barriers like childcare, transportation and even the cost of textbooks.

“You can still pay your bills, you can still continue to provide for your family but better yourself and your future,” said Monica Simko, campus director at Laurel Technical Institute in Sharon.

The program wants to help local employers find skilled employees able to fill jobs in the trades, which provide a living wage and benefits.

“I don’t care if a person becomes an electrician or truck driver. What I do care is that that person can sustain themselves, sustain their family and give something back to society,” said Bill Strimbu, with Strimbu Trucking.

LIFT hopes employers who hire a student from the program might also donate to benefit the next person.

For more information or to sign up for the LIFT program, visit the Community Foundation’s website.

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