Community Foundation Grants $280,000 For Will County Workforce Development & Education
Inaugural round of grants from $500,000 Amazon donation
The Community Foundation of Will County (CFWC) recently announced nearly $280,000 in grants from its Workforce Development and Education Fund. Seven applications were received and the first four grants awarded to fund programs that support near- and medium-term initiatives and strategic partnerships in Will County.
Last year, Amazon donated $500,000 to invest in workforce development and education in Will County. This allowed the CFWC to formalize a process for ongoing grant making from the fund with the intent of encouraging future community investment and the ability to support more projects and programs.
“The Amazon grant was a game-changer,” says Chris Spesia, Board president of the CFWC. “Will County has experienced the most rapid growth in the region during the past decade and this investment propelled a cooperative effort between business, industry, K-12, Joliet Junior College, our local universities and Will County government to help ensure that we continue to be a location of choice for companies like Amazon. This is exactly the type of initiative that the Community Foundation is intended for — connecting people who care with causes that matter.”
Since 2010, Amazon has invested $14 billion in the state of Illinois including infrastructure and employee compensation. The company has created 43,000 full- and part-time jobs in the state and continues hiring.
“The CFWC did a wonderful job setting up the framework for this grant and the community responded with actionable and scalable programs and great strategic partnerships,” says Sarah Glavin, Amazon’s Chicago Senior Manager of Community Engagement. “The process is simple so organizations can focus on ideas rather than paperwork. We are very excited about the first round of grants and we hope this encourages more contributions and more partnerships. We are very happy to see the investment get underway in Will County.”
Grants were made to the following organizations:
- A $100,000 grant will fund a partnership between Silver Cross Hospital, Joliet Junior College and Lewis University to develop and launch the three-year Healthcare Workers Pathways Program which will offer underserved, entry-level workers the opportunity to up skill and have access to stackable credentials in the healthcare field.
- A $60,000 grant to Governors State University to develop and launch the two-year Paraprofessional to Early Childhood Educator Program (ECE) Career Pathways Program which will offer an accelerated pathway to an ECE degree and address the indicate incumbent workforce demand for school and community-based early childhood center paraprofessionals.
- Governors State University will be awarded $71,000 to develop and implement a two-year Manufacturing Automation Upskilling Program through its School of Extended Learning. The program will create pipelines to fill immediate workforce needs for CNC Machinists in partnership with local employers and high school districts. The program will also assist employers in upskilling incumbent workers for open first line supervisory positions, developing a career path for new recruits and enabling mobility within the industry.
- A $63,000 grant to the Workforce Services Division of Will County to plan and implement a Pathways to Professions Expo in the Fall of 2022. The expo will be a hands-on and interactive experience with a variety of businesses and industries that will target approximately 2000 high school students, engaging them in industry specific activities and describing potential career pathways.
The Community Foundation of Will County seeks to improve the quality of life throughout Will County by promoting philanthropy, connecting donors to community needs and building partnerships. The CFWC was founded as an affiliate of the Chicago Community Trust by local community leaders in 2006 to serve as a local resource for donors and professional advisors in the implementation of charitable strategies through donor advised funds and other planning vehicles, to build endowments in areas of special interest and to hold various nonprofit agency/organization endowment funds.
The Workforce Development Advisory Committee
The goal of the Workforce Development Advisory Committee is to use the generous Amazon investment as impetus, establish a long-term collaboration focused on identifying and investing in workforce development programs that benefit Will County.