Tidewater Community College’s funeral service program is the recipient of a $10,000 grant from Service Corporation International (SCI), the largest single provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services in North America.

SCI representatives Robert Vandenbergh, Michael Gony and Blair Nelsen presented the Advancing Mortuary Science Education Grant on Jan. 27 to Michael Summers, provost of the Virginia Beach Campus; Joseph Fairchild, dean of social sciences and public services, Virginia Beach Campus; and Frank Walton, funeral service program head.

“We award just one grant for $10,000, and we have chosen TCC,” said Vandenbergh, a consultant with SCI. “The company made a decision that they wanted to help funeral service education. We know how much the profession is changing and how hard it is for staffs and schools to prepare for that.”

The grant will allow the college’s funeral service program to simulate funeral planning by integrating technology currently being used by professionals in the field. Thanks to the grant, TCC will be able to advance its curriculum by adding a digital merchandising computer program, a flat-screen television display, a computer with wireless capabilities and administrative and training components – all evolving technology to benefit students.

“This will help us better prepare students to work with families and assures an easy transition from the classroom to the workplace,” Walton said. “Use of this technology aids a student in the critical need for counseling a family member through those delicate moments of grief and decision making.”

TCC competed with four-year universities, private institutions and other community colleges for the grant. Vandenbergh said the committee that awards the grant considers innovation and how the recipient will use the funds to better prepare students for careers in the field.