Since transferring the administration of CW fees to the CNMI Scholarship Office this fiscal year, the CNMI Scholarship Office continues its efforts to ensure that the funds are justly distributed, in line with the mandates of U.S. Public Law 110-229.
The use of CW fees is expected to provide financial assistance to educational and vocational institutions that provide training and educational opportunities to prepare students in the CNMI to enter the workforce.
In the CNMI fiscal year 2018 budget, a grand total of $1.95 million from existing CW fees was appropriated by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to be administered by the CNMI Scholarship Office and distributed to eligible educational and vocational entities.
With the intent to provide complete transparency in the use of CW fees, the CNMI Scholarship Office administrator Rose Pangelinan and the office’s board of directors established the Commonwealth Workers Fund Grant under the Marianas Rural Workforce Opportunities by Rehabilitation through Knowledge and Skills, or MRWORKS, which provides the necessary guidelines for entities to submit their proposed work plan and budgets for review.
The Northern Marianas College, Northern Marianas Trades Institute, and Latte Training Academy were named the official awardees to receive funding from the $1.9 million CW fees for fiscal year 2018.
Based on a memorandum of agreement between NMC, NMTI, and the former CW funds administrator, the CNMI Department of Labor, both NMC and NMTI have been guaranteed $547,766 each, based on this MOA, while LTA has been approved a budget of $578,680 by the CNMI Scholarship Office.
This makes up 86 percent of the total appropriation, with the remaining 14 percent to be awarded for certain tasks not included in the initial award.
In return, each entity is expected to provide a semi-annual and annual report on the deliverables and job obtainability for each program and other approved expenses funded using CW fees.
“It’s been a great experience working with the three entities,” said Pangelinan.
Since taking over the administration of the CW funds, the main focus of the CNMI Scholarship Office has been on the deliverables or outcomes, which are in line with the Commonwealth Workers Program job categories.
Data on past deliverables by two previous awardees and proposed deliverables by all three entities were crucial in the award process, said Pangelinan.
The CNMI needs more residents who are trained, certified, and employable in the areas of priority, which is stipulated in the terms and conditions of the awards.
“Our biggest challenge during this whole process was not having enough funds to adequately award all three entities with their requests. However, we will continue to make every effort to identify funds that could be used toward their additional needs,” she said.
Each entity has agreed to the quarterly disbursement of funds based on their established budget plan set forth in each institution’s award letter.
The CNMI Scholarship Office has already disbursed a combined amount of $804,046. Thus far, funding of $353,833 has been disbursed to NMTI; $273,883 to NMC; and $176,280 to LTA.
The current distribution of funding to each entity is will cover the cost of instructor salaries, registration fees, internships, books, materials, equipment and more.
Each entity will also have the opportunity to submit additional funding requests, which will be subject for approval by the CNMI Scholarship Office administrator and board of directors, based on the availability of funds.
For the first time in CW funding history, LTA will be receiving funding.
“Latte Training Academy is thrilled to finally be included in the CW fee education funding. We appreciate that the CNMI Scholarship Office has recognized our past successes and has entrusted us to effectively utilize funding to train the local workforce,” said LTA executive director Arielle Buyum. “Through this funding throughout the year, Latte Training Academy will offer courses in hotel and hospitality, allied health, information technology and business administration. We encourage all U.S. eligible workers to learn more about our courses and register at www.lattetrainingacademy.com.”
The CW funding will allow LTA to fund classes so that their students can become phlebotomy technicians, nursing assistants, information technology certified, hospitality specialists and much more.
Torres said there have been positive strides made to increase the CNMI’s local workforce through the CNMI Scholarship Office’s initiatives and its collaboration with LTA, NMTI, PSS, and NMC
“I commend [the CNMI Scholarship Office] for its work to ensure that our educational entities receive the funding they need to support those seeking to learn new skills and making themselves employable,” said Torres.
“Developing our local workforce truly is a community effort, and I encourage everyone from our NAP Work Registration Program to anyone still looking for a job that fits his or her interest to attend a class and learn a new skill. The resources are here for you. It will go a long way to bettering the lives of your families, your community, and yourself,” he added.
For more information about the CNMI Scholarship Office’s role as administrator of CW fees, contact Monique Sablan at 664-4752 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. (PR)