19Mar Marion Technical College Awarded Innovation Grant by Tina Ginn Marion Technical College (MTC) has been awarded an Innovation Grant by the Ohio Department of Higher Education. This grant is a part of Governor John Kasich’s higher education strategies to enhance the quality of higher education while making it more affordable for students to receive an education. “The projects supported by these innovation grants will directly impact students as they pursue a successful future in college and their career of choice,” said Chancellor John Carey. “The projects will explore the implementation of competency-based education, support peer-to-peer mentor programs, and help students earn an associate degree before they graduate from high school, to name just a few highlights.” Marion Technical College is receiving a grant of $350,000 to expand their Graduate Pathways to Success (GPS) program. In 2016, MTC partnered with the Marion City Schools to implement the GPS program. This initiative identifies economically disadvantaged youth while in the 8th grade and sets them on a path to earn an associate degree by the time they graduate from high school by utilizing the College Credit Plus program, thereby earning a degree without incurring any debt. Employers, including Honda of America, Whirlpool, and OhioHealth, have been directly involved in the GPS program development and have committed to provide employment opportunities for students who complete the program. The GPS program is a long term approach to improving post-secondary degree attainment, and ensuring graduates have skills for in-demand jobs in Marion and surrounding communities. The curriculum pathway includes college coursework in all four high school grades, with integrated coaching and interventions. Students can choose from one of three pathways – engineering, medical assisting or the Associate of Arts pathway. The GPS program was launched thanks to the Marion Community Foundation who provided the initial grant funding. Schools receiving awards are Bowling Green State University, Columbus State Community College, Hiram College, Marion Technical College, North Central State College, Shawnee State University, and Sinclair Community College. Founded in 1970, Marion Technical College (MTC) is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and authorized by the state of Ohio to offer local educational options for citizens of seven north-central Ohio counties including Crawford, Delaware, Hardin, Marion, Morrow, Union and Wyandot. The mission of MTC is to provide the region’s most accessible, supportive, and personal pathway to career success.