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EmPOWERing high school students

Thanks to a Walton EMC School EmPOWERment grant, Morgan County High School students are earning technical education certifications they can use after graduation. Students pictured with their new certifications are, from left, Tony Jacobs, Thomas Bruce and Addison Smith.

2023 Walton EMC School EmPOWERment Grants

Total distribution: $241,589
Average grant: $5,252
Number of grants: 46
Schools receiving grants: 34
Total since beginning of program: $2,301,676
Source of money: unclaimed refunds

Students at two local high schools are finding a clearer path to the future thanks to School EmPOWERment educational grants funded by Walton EMC.

The Career, Technical and Agricultural Education program at Morgan County High School received one of the 69 grants distributed in 2022. The award purchased the tools, curriculum and training necessary to offer two new technical education certification programs from Snap-On tools.

The certification programs provide knowledge and skills that increase students’ employment potential in industries such as automotive and electrical, said Jennifer Butler, who oversees workforce development at the school. She expects 75 to 100 students to earn certifications each semester.

“I feel as though this will help me in the future. I will always have this certification available for whatever career I choose,” said Addison Smith, one of the school’s first students to earn a certification.

At South Gwinnett High School, students can explore a variety of post-graduation options in a college and career center outfitted with technology tools purchased with a grant.

“Today’s students are very tech driven, so we needed to make the center more student friendly,” said Dr. Aisha Stephen, the school’s interim college and career specialist. “Before, everything we had was on paper.”

Many of the school’s 643 seniors have taken advantage of the center’s added technology tools for college and career planning, preparing and submitting college applications and applying for financial aid.

Schools throughout Walton EMC’s 10-county service area have shared more than $2 million in School EmPOWERment grants since the program was initiated seven years ago. Funds for the program come from unclaimed refunds to former Walton EMC members.