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Donation made to Mississippi Scholars and Tech Master programs

Cooperative Energy and Origis Energy today made a joint donation of $125,000 to the Mississippi Scholars and Tech Master programs. The donation, announced at the Mississippi Economic Council’s annual Hobnob event, is the largest single gift ever made to the programs.

This is a press release

The Mississippi Scholars and Tech Master are initiatives of the Mississippi Economic Council’s Public Education Forum of Mississippi.

Mississippi Scholars provides a focus on a STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – curriculum. The program started in 2003 and is now offered in 118 school districts and has recognized more than 40,000 high school graduates.

Tech Master is designed to emphasize a tech-prep course of study, which provides technical skills to students who plan to enter the workforce after high school graduation or pursue post-secondary workforce certification.  Tech Master helps students acquire the necessary skills to thrive in the workplace. The program started in 2014 and is now offered in 83 school districts and has recognized more than 3,000 high school graduates.

Both programs are committed to helping Mississippi students prepare for the workforce or higher education.

“Mississippi must have a trained workforce to keep our companies and our communities going,” said Jim Compton, CEO of Hattiesburg-based Cooperative Energy that supplies power to 55 counties throughout the state.  “The Mississippi Scholars and Tech Master programs are helping Mississippi students by providing the coursework and training for successful jobs. The STEM coursework they are provided will help them integrate technology into the daily educational experience by teachers who know how to best present these subjects.

“The Mississippi Scholars and Tech Master programs are of special interest to our company as they will provide pathways for students to great careers with very good incomes, and at the same time Cooperative Energy and its Members will benefit via a trained workforce. Everybody wins.  These programs are in schools located throughout Mississippi, so the entire state benefits – not just one geographic region. This was especially attractive to our board and instrumental in our decision to donate to these particular programs.”

Johan Vanhee, Managing Director of Business Development for Origis Energy, said there is an enormous nationwide demand for technical expertise in many industries.

“We are seeing a high demand for many skilled, technical positions in the energy industry alone, but there are a multitude of other industry sectors where high-paying jobs are available,” he said. “We have been impressed with the quality of the workforce in Mississippi, but we need to increase the quantity. Origis Energy is a strong supporter of education, and Mississippi Scholars and Tech Master were the ideals vehicles for that support through their STEM-based education initiatives.”

Cooperative Energy and Origis Energy are also partners in bringing solar energy to Mississippi. The two companies are currently constructing a new solar generation site at Sumrall, Mississippi. Once operational, the 540-acre facility will generate 52 megawatts of electricity.

Scott Waller, interim President and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council, said workforce development is consistently a top concern when surveying the organization’s members and led to the formation of the Mississippi Scholars and Tech Master programs.

“Without question, our membership has said that workforce training is its biggest issue they encounter on a day in and day out basis,” said Waller. “No matter the industry or the location, workforce training is priority one.

“Some students will go to college after high school and Mississippi Scholars and its STEM training provides that coursework. But not every career requires a four-year degree. There are many technical jobs that offer great incomes, but those jobs require training and sometimes certifications. The Tech Master program helps students explore their options and educates them on the needed preparations for the path they choose. This donation will help continues that mission in the years to come.”

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