Academy representatives visit Rotary Club

LEWISTOWN–Representatives from The Academy were on hand at The Rotary Club of Lewistown’s weekly meeting Tuesday afternoon to show ways to grow the vocational school through The Academy Foundation.

The Foundation looks to develop programs, create scholarships and purchase equipment through community contributions to help grow The Academy. Mike McMonigal, adult education supervisor, said with The Academy Foundation, the school would be able to take advantage of state 50/50 grants that require matching funds. There is also the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program through the state to help raise funds with The Academy Foundation. Companies making donations of equipment to the school can benefit from the higher tax credit through the EPTC program.

McMonigal said The Academy has been modeling it’s growth efforts after Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology in Pleasant Gap. CPI came close to closing 20 years ago when State College pulled out of their consortium leaving only Bellefonte, Bald Eagle and Penns Valley as supporting schools. CPI’s plan hinged on land growth, capital health and capital improvement overseen by their foundation which was the key to them moving forward. When the three sending schools couldn’t come to an agreement on a loan it was the CPI’s foundation who took out a $4 million loan to secure the funds to grow the school. “It was that point that we really decided need to put together a foundation to help support the future growth of the school so that way we’re not entirely reliant on local tax dollars” McMonigal said. “It can help alleviate some of the tax burden on the sending schools.”

Academy Foundation board member Lucas Parkes took to the podium next to give some information on the foundation which was started last summer with starting all the paperwork and documentation necessary. “Our main goal is to support the Academy’s mission to grow it’s post secondary and adult education programs through the grant matches.” Parkes said. Parkes said the Academy are close to completing a strategic plan to map out their goals for the next 5 or 10 years. Parkes said the strategic plan will allow the Academy to set those goals and set up the steps needed to complete those goals. It will also allow them to allocate the money needed to accomplish each of the goals. “Hopefully with the foundation dollars we can provide that match (grants). We don’t have to go to the tax payers or the school board asking for more money every time we want to do something.”

In addition to the grant money to purchase new equipment there is a lot of opportunity in the scholarship programs with the School of Nursing being located in the area. CDL, welding and electrical training programs are growing services which can expand the adult education opportunities. “I think the Academy is going to be a great match and this foundation will provide them that avenue to generate a lot of additional income.” Parkes said.

There are pledge forms available to make a donation. Anyone wishing to contribute to The Academy Foundation can make a one time donation or set up a recurring monthly or yearly pledge. Parkes explained that those donations can be earmarked towards a certain program or scholarship. That way if you have a business in a certain field your contribution will go to a supporting program. Parkes said a lot of businesses are working with the Academy to train new employees and get them into the workforce.

The Academy meets monthly with the Chamber of Commerce business and education committee to look at students interests in career and technology exploration and set up career opportunities and opportunities to go out into the community to see what is available various fields. ‘We work with students from fourth grade all the way up to seniors.” Parkes said. The Academy holds mock interviews and job fairs and tours of Pennsylvania College of Technology campus. exposing students in Mifflin County to what is out there in the trade program.

“Hopefully with some of the money we are able to generate here at the foundation we can get those kids to the next level and help their dreams become reality because that’s what we need here in the community.” Parkes said. “In the partnering and the programs Mike and the guys want to do at The Academy I think we have a pretty good chance.”

More information on The Academy and it’s programs or the Academy Foundation can be found on their website at www.theacademy.net.

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