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New Partnership Offers Hope with Free Career Training

NEWARK, Ohio, July 29, 2020 — A trailblazing new partnership is forming in central Ohio that will build dreams and careers. 

Park National Bank, Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio and Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) have collaborated to help some of Licking and Franklin County residents change their future for the better by offering free education for in-demand careers. Through the new Build Your Dream; Build Your Career initiative, Habitat MidOhio homeowners and partner family members may choose to enroll at COTC in a certificate or degree program that will lead to an in-demand career at no cost or at a reduced cost. Short-term certificates, which can be completed in one or two semesters, are effective in significantly growing earning capacity because they are designed to get students started on a career path quickly.
“We are dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by working closely with our partner families to create decent and affordable housing with them, while also pointing them toward personal and professional growth opportunities,” explained Habitat MidOhio’s President and CEO E.J. Thomas. “Our partner families carry a habitat mortgage which shows their drive and ability to meet the obligations, plus they participate in financial literacy and debt reduction classes and are provided resources for learning about homeownership and modeling for generational change.”

Habitat for Humanity selects partner families that purchase their Habitat homes with a 0% interest mortgage and invest over 200 hours of sweat equity to help build their homes. To fulfill Build Your Dream; Build Your Career requirements, participants will be asked to complete a set number of volunteer hours with Habitat.    

Tuition, fees and books covered
Beginning in the autumn 2020 semester, six Habitat partner family members will have the opportunity to choose an educational pathway at COTC. They may choose to complete one of the five designated short-term certificates through which each participant will receive up to $2,000 of tuition assistance through the Ohio short-term certificate grant program which supports training for in-demand careers. Additionally, Park National Bank will provide funding to each participant to cover any costs above the grant award including textbooks and supplies, enabling each to enroll for free. 

During the pilot phase of this program, a limited number of applicants wishing to enroll in another COTC certificate or degree program that leads to a self-sustaining wage in an in-demand career field may receive up to $2,000 provided by Park National Bank to jumpstart the student’s technical education and career journey. 

Next steps
Habitat partner family members who are interested in taking advantage of this new career opportunity should contact Lisa Jones in Homeowner Services at 614.419.4387 or by email at They may reach the COTC Gateway admissions office directly at 740.366.9222 or Interested participants should also apply to COTC online at as a preliminary step. 

“At COTC, we align our training and education with regional employers and viable career pathways that provide a high standard for the quality of life we all deserve if we work hard,” stated Vicki Maple, EdD, COTC vice president for economic development and workforce solutions. “We emphasize the value proposition of a college credential for our Habitat partners and support them on their journey to securing a sustainable career as we also celebrate with them and send the message, ‘You’ve built your home, now continue to build your future!’” 

Students who complete any of the grant-approved short-term certificates will be well positioned for additional education and career mobility. The short-term certificate options include: 

Emergency Medical Technician Basic Certificate

State-Tested Nurse Aide (STNA) Certificate

Peace Officer Basic Training

Phlebotomy Certificate

Addiction Studies Certificate 

There are also dozens of options within COTC’s array of career clusters including certificates and degrees within health care, public safety, business and information technology, and engineering technology. 

“Through this new program, these families have a special opportunity to continue their momentum in building their dreams and investing in their future,” Park National Bank Chief Financial Officer Brady Burt said. “It’s exciting to help excellent local organizations come together in creative partnership, focused on real action in service to others. By expanding our support of these families, we can positively affect our local economy and our whole community.”

COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala. 


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