Lee receives $10,000 grant from Jay and Kay Eshbach Foundation

From left, Lee College President Dr. Lynda Villanueva, Kay Eshbach, and Lori Eshbach Comanich. (Photo by The Baytown Sun.)

Lee College recently received a $10,000 donation from the Jay and Kay Eshbach Foundation to help students manage financial challenges through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The gift will go directly to the Lee Cares emergency fund. It will provide Lee College students funding to help cover the cost of necessary expenses that could prevent them from finishing their education, such as medical costs, housing, childcare and food insecurities.

“We are extremely grateful for this generous donation from the Jay and Kay Eshbach Foundation,” said Dr. Lynda Villanueva, Lee College president. “As a public-serving institution, Lee College decided early on during the pandemic that we would do whatever it took to help all students succeed during this strenuous time. Because of this selfless gift, we are now that much closer to achieving that which we’ve set out to do.”

Jay Eshbach, president of the Jay and Kay Eshbach Foundation and founder of Eshbach Retirement Planning in Baytown, hopes this donation will help Lee College students overcome financial barriers to achieve their higher education goals.   

“One of the Eshbach Foundation’s core values is to be there when people need us,” he said. “We hope during these difficult times, the grant will help to keep hard-working students on the path toward graduation, even in the midst of many financial pressures.”  

So far, more than $150,000 in private donations to the Lee Cares emergency fund has been distributed to students who need help paying for basic needs as the result of job losses or other financial difficulties surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Current Lee College students can apply for Lee Cares scholarships online at https://lee.academicworks.com/opportunities/11144.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee awarded $1 million federal grant for Job Corps Scholars

Baytown, TX – Lee College has received a $1,182,574 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) as part of the Job Corps Scholars Program, a new national demonstration project that provides at-risk youth and young adults with job skills instruction, educational opportunities and individualized employment counseling.

Lee College was one of 20 colleges and universities selected to receive the DOL Job Corps Scholars Program grant totaling nearly $24 million.

“It is an incredible honor to be awarded this grant from the U.S. Department of Labor,” said Dr. Lynda Villanueva, Lee College president. “This award is evidence of the hard-working, student-minded team we have here at Lee College. As a result of this amazing opportunity, our communities will prosper, and people’s lives will improve. That is at the very heart of higher education, and it encompasses everything we do at Lee College.”

The college will provide training in certificate programs for in-demand fields including welding, pipefitting and millwright that can be completed in less than one year at the McNair campus in Baytown.

There is still time for students to enroll in the program for the Fall 2020 semester. To be eligible for the Lee College Job Corps Scholar Program, students must be 16 to 24 years of age and demonstrate a financial need. Eligible students will receive financial assistance with tuition and fees. Students will also benefit from personal and employment counselors’ services to support them through the duration of the program and to guide them toward employment after they complete the program.

“The Job Corps Scholars Program provides all the skills and knowledge a student needs to begin a meaningful career in today’s economy,” said Dr. Veronique Tran, Lee College vice president of instruction. “The program sets students up for success, even in the face of adversity. We are grateful for this opportunity from the U.S. Department of Labor, and we are excited about what the future holds for our institution and for the students who take advantage of this spectacular program.”  

The first fast track program lasts 13 weeks and runs Sept. 14 through Dec. 9. The courses are being held Monday through Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the McNair Center in Baytown.

Courses will be offered with a combination of online instruction and hands-on labs following social distancing and safety procedures. For those who do not meet the eligibility criteria of the Job Corps Scholars Program, some seats will be available and students may apply for financial aid to assist with the cost of the program.

Sixty-five percent of the total costs of the Job Corps Scholars program will be financed with Federal money and 35 percent will be financed by non-governmental sources.

To find out more about the Job Corp Scholars Program, contact Frances Parent, fparent@lee.edu or 281.425.6456.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee to receive $4 million from Federal CARES Act

Lee College will receive a little more than $4 million from the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund as part of the $14 billion in support for colleges and universities and their students under the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Of the more than $4 million, half of the money — or approximately $2 million — will be earmarked for emergency financial aid grants for Lee College students.

From its share of the funding, Lee College will award cash grants to students to pay for expenses related to the COVID-19 outbreak, including materials and technology, food, housing, and childcare. Lee College President, Dr. Lynda Villanueva, has appointed a task force to develop a plan for distributing the money to students. The group, which is working on a tight deadline, plan to begin disbursements as soon as possible. Details on how students can apply for the emergency aid will be shared broadly as soon as they are available.

These federal dollars will supplement Lee College’s ongoing efforts to provide financial relief for students in need of assistance. Since the pandemic began, Lee College has provided aid to more than 150 students who suffered expenses related to COVID-19 disruptions, including Chromebook computers and food.

The Department of Education plans to announce guidance for the second half of the funds allocated to post-secondary institutions — in Lee College’s case, approximately $2 million — in the next two weeks. This funding is intended for direct institutional use to cover costs associated with changes to educational delivery and campus operations as a result of coronavirus disruptions. Lee College wants to use these federal stimulus funds to pay for student tuition and lessen the impacts of the pandemic on the college’s student body.

The CARES Act provides $31 billion overall for education aid at all levels, including $14 billion in funding to institutions of higher education and students. The Department of Education based college awards on two factors: the share of recipients of federal Pell Grants, and overall undergraduate enrollment numbers.

STEM Hub opens on main campus with computers & free tutoring

Lee College cuts the ribbon on new STEM Hub
Lee College students, faculty, administrators and regents prepare to cut the ribbon at the new STEM Hub during a grand opening celebration held Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, at Moler Hall in the heart of campus. The hub is funded through a multimillion-dollar Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM grant from the U.S. Department of Education. It offers all students access to computers with instructional and professional software, as well as free printing and free tutoring in biology, chemistry, engineering, human anatomy and physiology, all levels of math, physics and process technology.

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College students tackling science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) assignments have a new place on campus to access computers loaded with instructional and professional software, and receive free tutoring for everything from algebra to anatomy.

The college and community celebrated this week the grand opening of the STEM Hub, an expanded facility in the heart of campus that provides space for students to focus on what many consider their most challenging subjects.

The hub includes both PCs and Macs equipped with programs students use in their classrooms and labs, like AutoCAD, MatLab, Visual Studio and the Microsoft Suite. There is also ample room for tutors to work with students individually and in groups on biology, chemistry, engineering, human anatomy and physiology, all levels of math, physics and process technology, as well as free printing for up to 10 pages of material through the fall semester to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

“We wanted students to have a space where STEM can be more engaging and more fun, where they can see math and science in a different light,” said Victoria Marron, executive director of HSI Initiatives. “There is no reason for a student to say they can’t be successful because they don’t have something. We will provide the resources they need.”

STEM Hub interior
STEM Hub interior

Funding for the STEM Hub came from a multimillion-dollar grant awarded to the college by the Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) division of the U.S. Department of Education to increase awareness, enrollment and completion of STEM degrees for Hispanic and other underserved student populations. The college was selected to receive HSI STEM grants in both 2011 and 2016, and used grant funds to establish the first STEM Center on campus in 2013. Student feedback from the original STEM Center helped administrators plan the additions and improvements at the new hub.

“It’s a dream to have the hub located in the center of campus, accessible to all students at any time,” said Executive Vice Pres. Dr. Christina Ponce. “Our team designed a first-class space and hired the best tutors to support students in getting into STEM degrees and completing STEM degrees.”

Karen Chavez, a former Lee College student now pursuing a degree in surgical technology, knows firsthand how overwhelming STEM courses can seem. Now a tutor for human anatomy and physiology courses, she tries to keep students focused on what they want to achieve by finishing their degree program.

“I always ask students what they’re going for, because it keeps them interested in STEM when they think about how to apply what they’re learning to what they want to accomplish,” Chavez said. “We didn’t have anything like the STEM Hub when I first started college, and the fact that we have all this available now is amazing.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College making 190 recorded oral histories digitally accessible via the Internet

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College is bringing the voices and stories of Texas veterans to new life as part of a special project to digitize and securely archive 120 oral histories of former military service members, as well as approximately 70 oral histories that cover the history of Baytown.

Developed by the Lee College Library, the Baytown Veteran/Local Oral History Project is being funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services through a grant to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The TexTreasures Grant aims to increase accessibility to library treasures by helping member libraries make their special collections more accessible to researchers in Texas and beyond. Lee College is one of 13 libraries, colleges and universities across the state awarded a TexTreasures Grant for fiscal year 2017.

As part of its digitization project, the Lee College Library will make about 96 hours of recorded veteran oral histories available for listening online. Once converted, the files will be sent to the Portal to Texas History at the University of North Texas for preservation storage, metadata creation and Internet access.

“This project allowed Lee College to migrate valuable oral information interview from obsolete audio cassette tapes to digital MP3 files. This will help preserve them for a longer period of time,” said Paul Arrigo, library director. “Since they are now in digital format, the library can also share these oral histories to the entire world, whereas previously people had to come to the Lee College Library to listen to them.”

Members of the community can hear the oral histories for themselves – including 35 hours on the history of Baytown – at the fourth annual Veteran’s Appreciation Day to be held from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, June 10, at VFW Post 912 on North Main Street in Baytown. Attendees can climb aboard the Lee College Mobile Go Center to listen to the stories and learn more about the digitization process from Lee College librarians, and enjoy family activities like helicopter rides and memorabilia displays at the event.

For more information about the Baytown Veteran/Local Oral History Project at Lee College, contact the library at 281.425.6379 or library@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College handed $50,000 Fluor Foundation grant

Lee College was awarded this month a $50,000 grant from The Fluor Foundation to support industrial training programs, and provide college scholarships to Goose Creek and Barbers Hill students interested in pursuing industrial careers.

Representatives from Fluor Corp. and The Fluor Foundation presented the $50,000 check at the December meeting of the Lee College Board of Regents. In addition to scholarships, the grant money will be used to purchase training equipment that enhances hands-on learning in the classroom.

Fluor reached out to Lee College in 2013 to forge a partnership that would address the growing demand for the next generation of skilled workers. Since that time, the company has helped recruit students for industrial training, offered valuable insight about how to improve and update program curricula, and given job opportunities to graduates.

“Fluor has truly proved to be a great industry partner for us,” said Debi Jordan, executive director of the Center for Workforce and Community Development. “They came to the table with not just challenges and problems, but solutions and support. They are very engaged.”

Torrence Robinson, president of The Fluor Foundation and senior director of Global Community Affairs, told the regents that Fluor is dedicated to developing the workforce that industry needs to be successful. Supporting quality educational initiatives is an essential part of that effort, he said.

“We are committed to helping provide the resources that you need to do your job even better, and we look forward to our continued partnership with Lee College,” Robinson said.

Lee College Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown and Board of Regents Vice Chairman Ron Haddox thanked Fluor and The Fluor Foundation for their generosity on behalf of the entire campus community.

“I can’t tell you how much this means to us, and more importantly, how much it means for our students,” Brown said.