Grant available for manufacturing-related careers
Posted On: 03/03/23
At Kankakee Community College, there are 82 students currently taking advantage of a grant program designed to get unemployed and underemployed people into manufacturing-related careers.
The One Workforce grant program covers tuition, textbooks, fees, hand tools, materials, and personal protective equipment for students enrolled in programs which can lead to employment in a field related to manufacturing. Grant students are enrolled in KCC manufacturing-based certificates and associate degrees such as: welding, machine tool, industrial maintenance, electrical technology, and manufacturing technology.
The grant’s formal title is “U.S. Department of Labor H-1B One Workforce Grant Program.” It is offered in affiliation with the Calumet Area Industrial Commission.
“When I first interview prospective grant students, they are shocked that all the expenses for their college degree/certificate are paid for by the CAIC – One Workforce Grant for Advanced Manufacturing,” said Mark Anderson, the program director. ‘“OK, what’s the catch?’ is the typical student response after I list what the grant will pay for. I continue to tell them that there is no catch, but it does take the student a while … to realize that the opportunity is real and is available immediately.
“Students have reported to me that the grant has broken most of the barriers that would have prevented them from enrolling in KCC or completing a certificate/degree that they had already began before the grant was offered,” Anderson continued. “More than half of the KCC grant students have reported to me that they now have a clear direction in their career path – the manufacturing industry. They will be able to make a very good wage that can support a family with a college degree/certificate from KCC.”
The One Workforce Grant had its first group at KCC enrolled in August 2021.
Between August 2021 and December 2022, the One Workforce Grant in the CAIC region awarded more than $181,000 in direct payments for KCC students’ tuition, textbooks, fees, tools, materials, and personal protective equipment including Red Wing work boots. On Jan. 31, 2023, a $93,000 check presentation representing Fall 2022 tuition payments, was held with representatives from the CAIC and KCC.
In all, the Calumet Area Industrial Commission will distribute funds throughout a region that ranges from Kankakee to Joliet to Des Plaines and all of Chicago; plus Lake, LaPorte and Porter counties in Indiana. Students can take advantage of the opportunity at KCC through the Fall 2024 semester.