State Awards $400K Grant; Corporate Sponsors Pledge Partnerships
Berkshire Community College (BCC) announces a major change in its hospitality and culinary programs with the introduction of the Berkshire Culinary Institute, created over the past year as the programs emerge from a hiatus during the pandemic. The Berkshire Culinary Institute is supported by a $400,000 grant recently awarded by the Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant Program, which encourages individuals to develop the skills necessary to meet the varying hiring needs of employers in the Commonwealth.
According to a recent announcement from Gov. Charlie Baker’s office, $9.7 million
in grants from the Skills Capital Grant Program have been awarded to 47 educational
organizations across the Commonwealth to update equipment and expand student enrollment
in programs that provide career education. This year’s awards mark $102 million in
total funding provided to high schools, colleges and other educational organizations
since the program’s inception in 2015.
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Two Berkshire County businesses, Mill Town Capital and Currency Coffee, have also pledged support to BCC’s new program. Mill Town Capital will employ four interns from BCC for three years, while Currency Coffee has agreed to provide equipment and consulting services. “Mill Town is excited to announce this partnership, and work has already begun on building the internship program at our hospitality properties,” said Mill Town Capital’s Managing Director Carrie Holland.
The capital grant will finance a host of new equipment, which will replace all equipment in the former teaching kitchen and transform it into a specialty bake shop. Construction at the college has also begun to transform a large portion of the former cafeteria into the new culinary space. This combined footprint will allow room for catering preparation, cooking labs, and classrooms, which will be available to both students and the community for events and workshops. Class sizes will be small, averaging about 15 students per class.
The Berkshire Culinary Institute will offer post-high school culinary training to complement the successful online Fast-Track Hospitality & Culinary program and new degree programs. It will serve as a state-of-the-art facility that trains head chefs, cooks, bakers, and other food specialists, an industry growing at a rate faster in the Berkshires than the national average.”
Additional support for the program is provided by Miraval Berkshires Resort & Spa, Canyon Ranch, Hillcrest Educational Centers, Life House, McNinch Restaurant Group, and Main Street Hospitality.
A Variety of Academic Options
BCC’s culinary program is part of the combined Hospitality and Tourism Management and Culinary Arts Management programs, which offer associate degrees, as well as certifications in Lodging Management, Culinary Arts Management, and Food and Beverage Management. Baver heads up the programming of non-credit courses, while James Storey, Faculty & Curriculum Coordinator – Hospitality Management, handles the credit programs.
For-credit culinary courses for the fall 2021 semester include Culinary Foundations I, Culinary Foundations II, Fundamentals of Baking, and Cold Food Operations. Hospitality courses include Hospitality and Tourism Perspectives; Hospitality HR, Law and Ethics; Wine Appreciation; and Food and Beverage Management. The next non-credit Fast-Track Hospitality & Culinary program, due to launch in September, will be offered to Spanish speakers who want to learn English and receive professional culinary and hospitality training.
Career paths emphasized in BCC’s hospitality and culinary programs include cooks, chefs, event managers, food and beverage managers, front desk supervisors, innkeepers, and general managers.
Financial assistance is available for applicants to the hospitality and culinary programs, including grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs. To apply, visit www.berkshirecc.edu/apply.
About the Skills Capital Grant Program
The Skills Capital Grant Program was launched in 2015 with the goal of replacing outdated equipment and technology, mainly at vocational technical high schools and community colleges. Since then, the program has evolved into a crucial component of local workforce training efforts by expanding the number of young people and adults trained and experienced with the newest technologies used by local employers.
The competitive grants are awarded to educational institutions that demonstrate partnerships with local businesses, as well as align curriculum and credentials with industry demand to maximize hiring opportunities in each region of the state. Approximately 40,000 students across the Commonwealth have directly benefited from the grants.
Since the Skills Capital Grant Program’s inception, 387 grants totaling more than $102 million have been awarded to 187 different schools and educational institutions across the Commonwealth, with many organizations receiving multiple grants over the years. The state’s investment also helped institutions leverage the grants to gain an additional $25 million in local matching funds.