(WHTM) — Today, students from community colleges across Pennsylvania came to the Capitol, asking lawmakers to invest more in their schools.

Pennsylvania’s 15 community colleges are responsible for educating more than 200,000 students a year, which helps fill critical gaps in the ongoing shortages of workers in key industries like nursing and public safety.

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“In the community aspect, it just makes people develop their skills, show them their passion, gives them opportunities that they never would have anywhere else. I just can’t express how grateful I was for everything I had in my community college. It was a one-of-a-kind experience that I did not expect, but was so glad I got to experience,” said Emma Hope, a student at Lehigh Carbon Community College.

The group also points out that community colleges are the most affordable way for Pennsylvanians to get a post-secondary education and that nearly half of their students are from minority communities.