Tomorrow Fellowship Program Moving Forward | national news
CHEYENNE — Lawmakers continue to show strong support for a proposed scholarship program designed to help non-traditional students attend college.
House Bill 31, “Wyoming’s Tomorrow’s Scholarship Program,” received unanimous support Friday on the House Education Committee. The legislation is designed to support non-traditional students who want to go to college after age 24, with scholarship opportunities of up to $7,200 over four full-time terms.
Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, called the program one of the “most important tools in the toolbox” for moving Wyoming forward when it comes to maintaining a hand- trained and qualified workforce.
“We have a growing problem and a shrinking solution,” he said, as neighboring states face a similar problem when it comes to filling jobs that require a specific skill set.
“There’s a pretty large percentage of people in Wyoming who don’t have any further education after high school,” Harshman said.
The Tomorrow Scholarship program, he said, would be helpful.
The committee heard from Erin Taylor, who spoke on behalf of the Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees, and Sandy Caldwell, executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission.
They both spoke in favor of the bill. Cindy DeLancey, president of the Wyoming Business Alliance, also urged lawmakers to support the bill.
“There is strong support from my 400+ members across multiple industries,” DeLancey said. “This is our highest legislative priority for this session.”
She said she heard support for the bill from the mining sector, the oil and gas industry, Wyoming producers, and people working in telecommunications, utilities, trucking and construction.
“We’re all together on this,” DeLancey said. “We have reached a point where we have to do something to help not only our young people, but our people who are perhaps non-traditional students who want to go back to (school to) learn the skills necessary to become a manager, or simply to improve their skills to enable them to succeed in having other employment opportunities.
Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, who serves on the House Education Committee, said the program is well worth the investment.
“If I have to pay someone $7,200 to come here to get an education and stay here to work, I’m all for it,” Brown said. “If that’s what it takes to bring an educated workforce to Wyoming, where we have employers who are considering moving here because we have an educated workforce, I’ll write a check of $7,200.”
Carrie Haderlie is a longtime freelance journalist from Saratoga who, among other topics, covers this year’s legislative session for the WTE. She can be contacted by email at [email protected]