California, Clarion and Edinboro have been designated as 2022 Guard-Friendly Schools by the organization known as Pennsylvania National Guard Association School or PNGAS.
California, Clarion and Edinboro universities will become campuses of Pennsylvania Western University on July 1, 2022, pending approval by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Developed by the PNGAS Education Advisory Council, the PNGAS Guard-Friendly School standards were designed to recognize colleges, universities and trade schools that meet or exceed 10 baseline criteria that create a supportive learning environment for members of the Pennsylvania Guard pursuing post-secondary degrees.
“Guardsmen have unique responsibilities that active duty troops and reservists do not have, and this creates different challenges for them when pursuing a degree,” said Brigadier General (Retired) George Schwartz, chairman of the PNGAS Education Action Council. “These 50 schools have made a deliberate effort to be flexible, accommodating and supportive of Guardsmen-students and deserving of recognition. The PNGAS Guard Friendly School designation is a win-win!”
For many years, the Education Assistance Program has been the number No. 1 recruiting tool for the Pennsylvania National Guard.
In 2016, to help optimize taxpayer dollars and increase the positive impacts of the EAP program for Guard recruitment and retention, PNGAS started collecting and sharing best practices among K-12, colleges, universities, trade, certification and training schools. PNGAS discovered many examples of inflexible, intolerant and unfair practices against members of the Guard. PNGAS also found that few schools knew how many Guard members even attended their school or how much EAP funding they received on an annual basis. But, by promoting and championing best practices, dozens of schools began improving many aspects of their relationships with members of the Guard and veterans.
To further their efforts, PNGAS formed the PNGAS Education Action Council in 2018, chaired by Schwartz, to jumpstart these initiatives. Very quickly, the EAC had discussions to define and create an application for the designation of a PNGAS Guard Friendly School. For months, dozens of colleges, universities and trade schools gave edits, insights, commentary and suggestions of the definition and application process for a PNGAS Guard Friendly School designation. Released in April 2019, the PNGAS Guard Friendly School application, designation and logo were designed to showcase and promote the schools that meet and exceed the 10 standards adopted by PNGAS.