Universal Technical Institute is distributing grants to more than 10,000 students training for careers as transportation technicians, welders and computer numerical control machinists.

With the cash grants, students impacted by the COVID-19 crisis will receive help with expenses such as food, housing, child care, transportation and technology.

UTI, which provides technical training for automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle and marine technicians, has begun distributing the $17.6 million in grants from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund CARES Act.

The institute is allocating grants based on need consistent with U.S. Department of Education guidance.

UTI chief executive officer Jerome Grant said the funding is important for the institute’s students, who he said have been hard hit by the crisis.

“With unemployment at record levels, our students need the essential training UTI provides now more than ever,” Grant said in a news release.

Grant continued, “Our mission is to prepare students for success in stable, rewarding careers. The HEERF CARES Act funding helps to keep them on that path. We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Education for supporting our students in their time of need and we appreciate the opportunity to facilitate the process.”

UTI said demand continues for its graduates in the face of significant unemployment and added that people and businesses keep their vehicles longer in a recession. Technicians and mechanics also remain in strong demand to service and maintain those vehicles.

The institute is working to serve students during the pandemic and has transitioned its on-campus, in-person education model to a blended learning format. That format couples online, instructor-delivered lectures and demonstrations with hands-on labs. The labs meet CDC, state and local guidelines for health, safety and social distancing.

“Our graduates are among the skilled tradespeople who power America,” Grant said.

Grant continued, “When our nation emerges from this crisis, they will help build the foundation of our economic recovery. We are ensuring that every penny of the HEERF CARES Act funding we receive is being used to support and train these future technicians to serve in the essential industries that need them.”