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Frontier Community College Receives Grant from US Department of Education

Fairfield, Ill. – Frontier Community College (FCC), an Illinois Eastern Community College, has been selected to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) for a total amount of $2,249,961 from October 2019 through September 2024.  The allocation of funds will be approximately $450,000 for each of the five years.

The grant has two major components: convert existing healthcare curriculum to online and hybrid delivery, including the addition of a new Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) Program; and create user-friendly processes to onboard online students.

The Medical Laboratory Technician Program will be a two-year Associate in Applied Science Degree to begin in the Fall of 2021.  Medical lab technicians perform tests that help physicians diagnose and treat diseases.  Primary job duties may include preparing samples for analysis, monitoring tests and procedures, analyzing chemical content of fluids, matching blood for transfusions, and more.  Jobs are found in hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and public health organizations.  A huge turnover in the MLT field is expected over the next five to ten years, and this trend is true at several hospitals within the Southern Illinois region.  Adding the MLT Program to FCC will provide several jobs in the area, with a current earning potential of $51,000 per year.

With the grant, Frontier Community College will also begin strengthening its online opportunities to students and the public.  The MLT Program will begin with entirely face-to-face classes but will eventually be offered in hybrid format (a blend of classroom instruction and online learning).

Additionally, FCC will create online and hybrid classes for the Certified Nursing Assistant certificate, Phlebotomy certificate, and Health Informatics Technology Associate in Applied Science Degree.  The grant will also allow FCC to offer the following services online: tutoring, advising, intake services, degree mapping, and financial literacy instruction.

Several additions and improvements will be made to FCC’s campus to enhance the learning environment for students.  To ensure sufficient capacity for science instruction, FCC will update its existing science lab that is housed in Mason Hall.  The grant will also provide for a new science lab, as well as a new MLT lab.  With these additions, the MLT Program and other health-based programs can offer work-based learning experiences to support several in-demand occupations.

Dr. Paul Bruinsma, Dean of Instruction at FCC, provided research and data during the grant writing process beginning in 2017.  “This grant will allow us to not only add to our healthcare-related offerings, but enhance that division as a whole,” says Bruinsma.  “With the addition of the MLT Program, this gives students more options to meet their academic interests and prepare them for gainful employment.”

“This is wonderful news for Frontier as well as our Illinois Eastern Community Colleges District,” says Dr. Jay Edgren, President of FCC.  “Our local healthcare providers have not been shy about expressing the need for more entry-level employees in these fields, and we are thrilled to be training students to meet this need.”  Edgren also noted that the SIP award process is very competitive, so FCC is “very fortunate” to be a recipient.

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