Lowe’s grants to serve school, community

PIQUA — Lowe’s, the largest corporate donor in SkillsUSA history, has renewed its partnership with a $1.5 million commitment to the organization, bringing Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation’s total contributions to SkillsUSA to nearly $14 million since 2006.

Upper Valley Career Center, Piqua, will receive $25,000, which will allow students to rehabilitate an old church building in Piqua to create a supervised center for community Wi-Fi access and tutoring. Jeff Bertke and Sara Plozay are the SkillsUSA advisers at Upper Valley who submitted the grant application. Bertke is also the Electrical Trades instructor who will schedule and oversee the work.

“This project will be completed through a partnership of different programs working together,” Bertke said. “We plan to install new light fixtures, repair walls, paint, and assemble furnishings — all by the end of October.”

Bertke goes on to say that community projects like this align with SkillsUSA goals.

“When students are involved in their community to this extent, it helps them grow and develop sense of pride in their work and ultimately the community.”

The Upper Valley Career Center grant is one of 15 nationwide and is the highest dollar amount awarded. Plozay, a Cosmetology instructor, said, “We are thrilled to be able to provide our students the means to address such an critical need in their community.” She points out that the grant will impact the student and their peers in an around Piqua. Plozay summarizes, “Lowes and SkillsUSA are going to impact lives for years to come through this grant. We are so very grateful and excited.”

SkillsUSA is a vital solution to the growing U.S. skills gap. This nonprofit partnership of students, instructors and industry ensures America has the skilled workforce it needs to stay competitive. Founded in 1965 and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education, the association serves more than 300,000 member students in130 trade, technical and skilled service occupations and instructors each year in middle schools, high schools and colleges.

Upper Valley Career Center has nearly 400 students participating in the organization this school year.