Rock Valley College was recently awarded a $1.5 million Workforce Equity Initiative grant from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB).
The RVC Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) will serve approximately 150 low-income, minority persons within the College’s district that are currently underserved and underemployed.
Participants in this initiative will be provided short-term educational opportunities that will lead to employment specifically in the sectors of truck driver training, computer numerical control (CNC) operation, cold forming, and industrial welding. The end goal for all participants of RVC- WEI is to establish them in jobs with sustaining wages and the tools to succeed, as well as prepare them for additional educational opportunities as they develop professionally.
The RVC-WEI initiative will provide participants with stipends to cover the cost of tuition, fees, and materials for courses required to complete the identified short-term certificate. Students will also be provided with wrap-around support services, such as life and career coaching and financial support for transportation and childcare, addressing their individual needs to be successful in completing educational requirements and securing post-completion employment.
“There have been many discussions in our community recently about the need to address the middle-skills gap,” said RVC President Dr. Doug Jensen. “We also are a region where there are over 40,000 residents who do not have a high school diploma, and where our poverty and unemployment rates are higher than the national averages. This workforce equity initiative will allow the College to address those issues as we continue to do our part to help Rockford transform itself into a Top 25 community.
“The fact that we were able to identify four existing College programs for the focus of this initiative shows that the College has already been actively addressing the needs of our community. This grant will go a long way toward helping us strengthen those efforts, while specifically targeting those individuals who need it the most.”
Under the grant requirements, at least 60% of those to be served by RVC-WEI will be African American students. The grant also stipulates that at least 75% of participants will successfully complete their identified program of study within the accelerated time frame, at least 75% of participants will successfully complete life-skills training addressing the Illinois Essential Employability Skills (e.g., STU 103: Workplace Ethics and Job Readiness), and at least 60% of participants will continue within the field in which they prepared at the end of their program by either being employed in a full-time job at least 30% above the regional living wage or by being registered for continued training/education.
For more information on this program please contact Chris Lewis, RVC Vice President of Community Outreach and Strategic Partnerships at (815) 921-4012.