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3 ways colleges are using stimulus and savings to create healthier, more prosperous communities

October 29, 2021

School leaders across the U.S. work to enrich local communities through career and personal development training programs. As COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted our already marginalized communities — both in terms of illness and death, as well as job and wage loss, career-based education accessible to all students has never been more important.

This leaves community college leaders facing mounting pressures to:

Luckily, in response to COVID’s impact on our schools nationwide, the U.S. Department of Education has stepped in to provide an unprecedented amount of funding as part of its American Rescue Plan (ARP). Through this funding, community colleges around the nation received over $40 billion in Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding (HEERF III) to address the financial burden faced by institutions of higher learning and students alike.

This HEERF funding offers a unique opportunity for typically resource-constrained community colleges to invest in campus infrastructure and health, sustainability, modernized curriculum, student tuition assistance, and more accessible technical training. While this provides an incredible and much needed opportunity, college leaders may be left wondering how best to use these funds to get the greatest ROI.

As a trusted partner of thousands of community college leaders across the nation, Trane has put together this guide to help community college leaders navigate using HEERF funds to address their most pressing challenges.

This once-in-a-lifetime funding can be used to help:

Stimulus for Community Colleges_FINAL .jpg

Sound too good to be true? Let’s dive in.

1. Prioritize Infrastructure to Boost Campus Health, while Driving Savings

On top of long lists of overdue campus maintenance and aging infrastructure needs, facility managers are now faced with the daunting task of ensuring buildings are setup to provide a healthier learning environments.

We know that quality and comfort of the classroom environment have always been critical factors in student well-being and academic performance, but never has it been so top of mind for students, staff. Administrators, and their families. The pandemic has thrust building health and indoor air quality (IAQ) into the spotlight, providing facility managers with an opportunity to secure funding for long overdue maintenance projects.

Unforeseen emergency maintenance and aging infrastructure cost schools millions of dollars each year. Meaning that leaving these unaddressed can have significant impacts on revenue. Federal stimulus funds provide the perfect opportunity to tackle much needed infrastructure projects — setting colleges up for substantial savings now and in the future to:  

  • Tackle mounting deferred facility maintenance to stay ahead of unnecessary and costly repairs.
  • Modernize aging building systems and equipment to increase efficiency and reduce energy costs.
  • Save money by strengthening the campuses’ resiliency for years to come by investing in its long-term needs today.
2. Invest in Smarter Campuses to Save Money and Increase Sustainability

Managing multiple buildings across a campus is no easy feat. Incorporate intelligent technologies, building automations and consolidated management platforms, to equip facility managers with data and controls needed to address campus IAQ , improve efficiency and comfort, and drive revenue.

Trane’s intelligent building management and automation solutions provide access to critical data, giving a complete 360 view of each building. This allows for more proactive maintenance and issues-management, and can increase cost savings through the ability to:    

  • Control air quality, ventilation and comfort of every classroom
  • Optimize each building’s peak resource demand to reduce energy and water waste  
  • Protect campuses through intelligent, fast-acting building automations to mitigate environmental threats
  • Monitor real-time building health to schedule preventative maintenance and avoid costly repairs
  • Mitigate risks to campus cybersecurity threats

Additionally, smart campuses are critical components of healthy, sustainable communities. We’re seeing community college leaders investing in on-campus renewable energy production and storage as part of their leading-edge technical training curriculum AND their infrastructure cost-management strategy. This two-for-one approach produces clean, abundant renewable energy – for free – thus, increasing operational savings and revenue. These green savings fuel cleaner campuses and healthier communities. 

Fun fact: HEERF funds can be used to pay for some of these infrastructure investments and technical training programs to help community colleges create long-term ROI. Get in touch to learn how today.

3. Partner with Trane to Enrich the Community While Creating Opportunity & Access for All

Community colleges are the heart of our communities. Often serving as a hub for recreational, educational and cultural engagement, they play an integral role in supporting the most marginalized community members. Through technical training and career preparation programs, community colleges offer educational enrichment and a pathway out of generational poverty. Moreover, through partnerships with global employers like Trane, community colleges can co-create and provide students leading-edge technical training (like our NC3 partner certification program) and job placement opportunities (like the Trane Technician of the Future program) to secure promising careers in high-demand fields including: Energy Modeling, Facility Data Analysis, and HVAC Maintenance & Repair. This clear pathway toward building a fulfilling career attracts student enrollment and helps ensure student success over the course of their professional journey.

HEERF funds play a critical role in building these opportunities for students. A substantial percentage of HEERF dollars are specifically allocated for tuition assistance; the rest are allocated to be used as infrastructure investments that create savings. Through the combination of these savings and tuition assistance programs, college leaders can finally afford to modernize their buildings AND develop curriculum to increase enrollment. In addition, these savings can extend the ability to offer tuition assistance and scholarships – creating more opportunities for community enrichment than ever before.

Create Healthier and More Accessible Community Enrichment – All While Saving Money
Securing support for capital improvement projects and managing escalating campus operational costs can be challenging. By investing timely HEERF funds into long overdue campus infrastructure improvements, community college leaders can create healthier and more prosperous higher educational institutions – all while serving the community and saving money. Now that’s a return on investment.

Ready to start reducing campus operational costs or interested in getting started with a NC3 technical training program?

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