March 24, 2021

VINCENNES, Ind. – The Duke Energy Foundation and Vincennes University have joined forces to help Hoosiers like Anissa Bruce and Gabriel Davis lay a foundation for better or different job opportunities.

The Duke Energy Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to VU to help approximately 50 students chosen for Indiana’s Next Level Jobs program, which provides free job training in high-paying, in-demand industries such as advanced manufacturing and construction trades.

The grant is designed to help students offset expenses associated with their participation in the program. Preference will be given to students who are Duke Energy customers.

According to VU Vice President for Workforce Development and Community Services David Tucker, “We know students succeed when barriers outside of class are reduced, such as figuring out how to pay for housing, food, or gas. The Duke Energy Foundation grant assists students with extra costs, which in turn will help them focus on training.”

A check presentation was held on Wednesday, March 24 in the Robotics Lab in the Technology Center on the Vincennes campus. Duke Energy Indiana President Stan Pinegar and Kurt Phegley, Duke Energy’s government and community relations manager for southwest Indiana, presented the check to University leaders, including President Dr. Chuck Johnson, Executive Director of the VU Foundation and Senior Director of Institutional Advancement Kristi Deetz, and Tucker.

Kristi Deetz, Stan Pinegar, Dr. Chuck Johnson, David Tucker, and Kurt Phegley during the check presentation. 

“People who advance their education have greater opportunities for employment in high-skill, high-wage jobs,” Pinegar said. “This can lead to a faster and long-lasting economic recovery in the communities we serve.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, workers are being confronted by unemployment, layoffs, fewer hours, and furloughs, which has led them to pursue career pathways and educational experiences. A part of the Next Level Jobs program is the Rapid Recovery for a Better Future initiative which provides resources and support for Hoosiers affected by the pandemic to secure education, training, skills, and career coaching, increasing access to quality jobs.

Anissa Bruce and Gabriel Davis operating CNC machines in the Indiana Center for Applied Technology on the Vincennes Campus.

Bruce and Davis are currently enrolled in VU’s Right Skills NOW - CNC Machining program, which is 600 hours of intensive training that prepares students for careers in advanced manufacturing.

The funds provided by the Duke Energy Foundation will aid Bruce tremendously in helping her fulfill her short-term needs, such as getting prescription safety glasses, and her long-term goals of transitioning into a higher-paying career.

“With the pandemic, I got laid off and I had to file for unemployment,” said Bruce, who currently works for a local manufacturer. “I want to have more skills, then get a better-skilled job. I saw advertisements for Next Level Jobs and it was something I definitely wanted to do, and I’ve learned a lot.”

Davis intends to use his stipend to purchase tools for his training. 

“Tools are very expensive,” he said.

Davis was searching for a career path when he learned about the CNC machining program. He jumped at the chance to enroll.

“It will help me get my foot in the door for a career,” Davis said. “It seems like an interesting career being able to make stuff for aircraft, spaceships, and stuff like that.”

For more information about VU’s Next Level Jobs programs, explore: https://www.vinu.edu/web/workforce-development/nextleveljobs. To learn about VU’s Business and Industry training programs, visit: https://www.vinu.edu/web/workforce-development.

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Author:

Marcia Martinez

Date: