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McHenry County College Awarded $20,000 Impact Grant for Pre-Apprenticeship Program

The pre-apprenticeship program at McHenry County College (MCC) was recently awarded a $20,000 Impact Grant from the First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO). The money will be used to support a six-week career training program to help those with barriers to employment earn credentials to enter the healthcare, IT, or manufacturing workforce.

The grant funding was presented to MCC by Sean Cratty, Illinois Retail Director at FNBO, on Monday, September 13. 

According to FNBO’s website, the Impact Grant Program focuses on “partnering with and empowering nonprofit organizations that break down barriers to economic and social opportunities.”

Eligible individuals for MCC’s pre-apprenticeship program are adults who need training to increase their skills in order to obtain competitive employment. These individuals may include those experiencing homelessness, domestic abuse survivors, English language learners, or those with mental illness or a history of substance abuse.

“Each year, we ask for feedback from local employers to strengthen our workforce training programs, and the message is clear: a lack of skilled workers is threatening their businesses,” said Catherine Jones, Associate Vice President of Workforce Development at MCC. “Employers rely on us to help develop a pipeline of workers with technical and problem-solving skills, and this program’s mission is to do exactly that.”

Participants are referred from partner agencies as well as MCC’s Adult Education program and complete career exploration activities to choose an industry. The pre-apprenticeship includes 115 hours of technical training, 30 hours of employability skills (time management, accountability, professionalism), and 36 hours of industry-defined training to help learners better understand their industry. Cohorts are enrolled twice a year.

“A dedicated success coach is also assigned to these groups to ensure students receive support services from partner organizations, including financial education, childcare, housing, and transportation,” added Jones. “This helps the graduates progress toward goals and advance their careers, leading to individual and family success, and ultimately a more resilient local economy.”

The program has been in existence for two years. Previous grant awards helped MCC establish the initial manufacturing pre-apprenticeship program and expand into the healthcare and IT fields. So far, 39 students in four cohorts have enrolled, with 37 successfully completing. MCC has established partnerships with nine area employers who have helped define the program’s curriculum.

For more information about MCC’s pre-apprenticeship program, contact (815) 455-8593 or shahcenter@mchenry.edu.