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Gov. Pritzker Announces $15M Investment to Create Two State of the Art Manufacturing Training Academies Downstate

KTVI Channel 2 news: SWIC to develop new manufacturing training academy with state grant


Funding from Bipartisan Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan Will Establish Two New, Cutting Edge Training Academies to Prepare Illinoisans for Future Jobs and Boost Investment in Downstate Communities 

NORMAL, IL – Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), joined by Heartland Community College and Rivian, today announced an investment to build two advanced manufacturing training academies to expand training for high-demand manufacturing jobs in Illinois. A $15 million capital investment through the Governor’s bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan will establish two downstate manufacturing training academies that will provide hundreds of Illinois residents the opportunity to develop specialized skills for a career in advanced manufacturing.

“Today, I’m proud to announce the winning projects that will launch two cutting edge new programs here in Illinois, which will begin enrolling students later this year,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This capital investment – spurred by our historic Rebuild Illinois capital program – builds on the funding that Rebuild already devotes to upgrading and expanding facilities at Illinois community colleges, cementing their key role in continuing to train our young workforce, and lifelong learners keeping their skills fresh. Today is just one indicator of the job and skills growth our state is seeing. Workforce investments like those we’re announcing here foreshadow even more good jobs we can fill in the future.”

The new training facilities will be established at Heartland Community College (HCC) in Normal, and Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) in Metro East.  State funds will be met with $4.95 million in matching commitments for capital projects, as well as additional support from employers and regional partners to establish new training academies.

“Today’s announcement delivers on a key commitment made under Governor Pritzker’s 5-year economic plan, which calls for investments in downstate communities to prepare our next generation of workers with a pathway to well-paying jobs of the future,” said Sylvia Garcia, Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.  “As the electric vehicle industry and other advanced manufacturing roles see increasing demand – in Illinois, we are preparing to seize those jobs, with investments made across our communities and to maintain our state as a top destination for companies to grow and invest.”

Programs are expected to launch later this year, enrolling hundreds of students in the first year of the program. While each program will have a different focus, both will help meet the demand for state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing training downstate, preparing Illinoisans to seize on advanced careers in the manufacturing sector in the years ahead.

“Community Colleges play an essential role in providing affordable and equitable access to education, and in turn, a pathway to sustainable careers. And partnership is key to building and maintaining the workforce needed to fulfil the promise of innovation in technical education and to grow the economy,” said Heartland Community College President Keith Cornille. “Working with the DECO and Rivian, and our other regional manufacturing partners, we gain key pieces in providing a pathway to a sustainable career for students both coming right out of High School and also those who look to re-enter the workforce. With the new Electric Vehicle-Energy Storage Manufacturing Training Academy, Heartland Community College will be a hub for innovation, and a resource for those looking for upskilling in a wide variety of occupations.”

At Heartland, a $7.5 million grant from the State will enable the development of the new Electric Vehicle-Energy Storage Manufacturing Training Academy (EVES). This first-of-its-kind EV manufacturing training program is made possible by a partnership with electric vehicle manufacturer, Rivian, which is expected to create an additional 1,600 jobs in the next two years alone. Matching state funds with a $1.5 million private employer commitment, HCC will develop a new auto shop used exclusively for training for EV manufacturing. This program will help meet growing needs of the region and will prepare Illinois to seize on the rapid growth of the EV industry, with Illinois jobs expected to double by 2024.

“Rivian is honored to have supported the leadership of Governor Pritzker in establishing the Electric Vehicle-Energy Storage Manufacturing Training Academy,” said James Chen, Vice President of Public Policy and Chief Regulatory Counsel for Rivian. “This project will help prepare local workers for the well-paid, technical jobs that the clean energy transition requires.  This project also reflects Rivian’s core values of community empowerment, innovation, and a strong foundation for the continued growth and success of the electric vehicle industry. We thank Governor Pritzker, the Illinois DCEO, and Heartland Community College for making this academy a reality.”

At SWIC, a second $7.5 million grant will create a new manufacturing education hub in Belleville – expanding upon the school’s successful manufacturing training facilities. The Advanced Manufacturing Center will break ground in 2021 and will welcome students into its new facilities by fall 2022. The project will be completed in two phases: with the first creating a new precision machining pathway; and the second aiming to expand career training for roles in industrial electricity and welding manufacturing. Construction on a new 31,100 SF lab space complete will provide new computers and other specialized equipment. This new program will also prioritize helping to address equity gaps in the region – with SWIC creating a new diverse recruitment program to help ensure more minority and women students can participate in newly created training.

“One of Southwestern Illinois College’s primary goals is to train students for well-paying, highly skilled, in-demand career fields, and the construction of a manufacturing training academy will bolster these efforts,” said SWIC President Nick Mance. “In light of the unemployment rate and economic distress in the area, it is more crucial than ever that students embark on a viable career pathway that leads directly to steady employment paying a living wage or better.”

“Manufacturing remains an important and growing industry for our state, and we are poised, with the right investments, to ensure more Illinoisans get the opportunities they need to train for these 21st century jobs,” said Brian Durham, Executive Director of the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB). “These training academies will address a skills shortage in the manufacturing industry and adopt new technologies in manufacturing production while meeting the needs of many regional employers, located in these downstate communities.”

“This grant is a natural fit for Heartland Community College and will enhance every aspect of manufacturing training and education for students! The proximity of Heartland and Rivian Motors will be a strong connection for the technology needs for Students and this funding will be a great foundation of investment,” said Deputy Republican Leader Dan Brady. “Thank you, Governor Pritzker, Heartland President Keith Cornille, and trustees. I am pleased to have played a part in this education, and jobs training investment!”

“This is an important grant that will help this program to train people to be successful in high tech careers with employers such as Rivian,” said State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington). “It’s good to see the state step up to help keep our workforce ready for a changing and ever-competitive global economy.”

Since taking office, Governor Pritzker has prioritized making investments in the manufacturing industry that will create jobs, advance access to training, and maintain Illinois as a top destination for manufacturing growth and innovation. This includes the creation of the apprenticeship tax credit to further establish and build out the pipeline of skilled talent of advanced manufacturers in our state to help prepare Illinois to seize the new jobs created by this growing industry in the years ahead. Additionally, the Governor’s pledge to make Illinois a clean energy state by 2050 is predicted to increase jobs in the EV sector.

For more information on the two Manufacturing Training Academies programs, please visit DCEO’s website.

Fire Science program receives equipment donation

Thanks to O’Fallon Fire Department and Chief Brad White, the Southwestern Illinois College Clay Baitman Fire Science Training Center received a donation of Amkus and Phoenix Vehicle Extrication Tools. These tools will be used to train firefighters across the program in various specialties. The SWIC Fire Science training program includes a two-year, 66-semester-credit Associate in Applied Science degree with Fire Protection Administration and Fire-Rescue Specialist options. Eleven certificates, ranging from Vehicle Rescue Operations to Hazardous Materials First Responder, help firefighters develop specific skills. The Clay Baitman Fire Science Training Center, located on Freeburg Avenue in Belleville, is used for hands-on training designed to meet various national fire service training standards. For more information, visit swic.edu/fire-science.

Southwestern Illinois College Team Featured in Pilot Episode of ‘Clash of Trades’ and Advancing to National Skilled Trades Competition

A team of students from Southwestern Illinois College are finalists in the Project MFGTM National Challenge this month, a skilled trades competition for a chance to win scholarships, prizes and title of national champion. The team will be featured in the upcoming pilot episode of Clash of Trades to celebrate National Welding Month in April.

The students will compete in a two-day challenge March 24 and 25, 2021, at the SWIC Sam Wolf Granite City Campus, with a film crew on site to capture the event. The team, along with three other teams from across the country, advanced to the national competition after rigorous judging in complex advanced manufacturing skills. Teams work together in a challenge that mirrors the real-world, hands-on skillsets needed to succeed in advanced manufacturing.

The SWIC team includes students Gavin Becherer of Troy, Connor Barnard of Godfrey and Connor Braasch of Troy.

The teams from Danville Community College, Calhoun Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, and Southwestern Illinois College were selected based on rigorous judging of a complex advanced manufacturing project and conclude the 2020 competition series that was delayed due to COVID-19.

Each team is comprised of current or recently graduated students who are learning a skilled trade. The teams work together in a challenge that mirrors real-world, hands-on skillsets needed to succeed in advanced manufacturing.

The pilot episode of Clash of Trades will premiere on YouTube on April 20, 2021, at 7 pm CST, when the national champion will be revealed. The show will provide an engaging look at each team’s story and their approach to completing the challenge, judged by a panel of expert judges. The show intends to change the perception of the skilled trades by highlighting the stories of individuals entering the field and the high-tech, future-focused work of the US manufacturing industry. Those who register to view Clash of Trades on April 20 can enter a chance to win a $2500 scholarship.

The manufacturing industry is experiencing exponential change and new technologies are not eliminating jobs as some predicted. Studies have found the reverse – more jobs are being created. The skills gap may leave more than 2 million positions unfilled if more young people don’t enter the skilled trades. The US Department of Defense declared this deficit as one of the most vital challenges for the US defense industrial base.

Project MFG shines a light on the need and opportunities for skilled trades by focusing on the development of new talent to provide a path forward for individuals and our country. Project MFG competitions throughout the United States promote the trades across industries and help advance the next generation of highly skilled trade professionals. As an integrated workforce development and recruitment effort, Project MFG collaborates across communities, the private sector and government to expand the US industrial base workforce.

Project MFG is a program of the Global Learning Accelerator Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit, funded by the Department of Defense, and operated and managed by RD Solutions, LLC. The mission of the Global Learning Accelerator is helping people find the nexus between their passions and what the world needs.

For more information about the SWIC Technical Education program, visit
swic.edu/tech-ed. For more information about Project MFG and the Clash of Trades premiere on April 20, 2021, please visit: www.projectmfg.com.

SWIC Earns 2021-2022 Military Friendly® School Designation

Southwestern Illinois College announced today, Feb. 26, 2021, that it has earned the designation of 2021-2022 Top 10 Military Friendly ® School.

Institutions earning the Military Friendly ® School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. Over 1,200 schools participated in the 2021-2022 survey with 747 earning the designation.

“We’re very proud to provide a welcoming environment for our active-duty military and veteran students, and help them earn a college education through their education benefits,” said SWIC President Nick Mance. “In addition, we’ve enjoyed a longstanding mutually beneficial partnership with Scott Air Force Base.”

SWIC has the largest population of student veterans of all colleges and universities in the state. Ten percent of currently enrolled students use military educational benefits.

Established in 1946, SWIC serves the more than 300,000 residents of Community College District 522 through campuses in Belleville, Granite City and Red Bud plus numerous off-campus sites, including Scott Air Force Base and the East St. Louis Higher Education Center.

SWIC offers more than 150 affordable degree and certificate program options – including online and accelerated courses – for students who want to transfer to a university or prepare to enter the workforce. Articulation agreements with public and private colleges and universities help to ensure the transfer process is seamless for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

The 2021-2022 Military Friendly® Schools list will be published in the May issue of G.I. Jobs magazine and can be found at militaryfriendly.com.

Methodology, criteria, and weightings were determined by Viqtory with input from the Military Friendly ® Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher education and military recruitment community.

Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey response set and government/agency public data sources, within a logic-based scoring assessment. Military Friendly also measures the institution’s ability to meet thresholds for Student Retention, Graduation, Job Placement, Loan Repayment, Persistence (Degree Advancement or Transfer) and Loan Default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

“Military Friendly ® is committed to transparency and providing consistent data driven standards in our designation process. This creates a competitive atmosphere that encourages colleges to consistently evolve and invest in their programs. Schools who achieve designation show true commitment and dedication in their efforts. Our standards assist schools by providing a benchmark that promotes positive educational outcomes, resources, and support services that better the educational landscape and provide opportunity for the Military Community,” said Kayla Lopez, National Director of Military Partnerships, Military Friendly ®

For information about SWIC student veteran programs, visit swic.edu/veterans.

 About Military Friendly ® Schools: The Military Friendly ® Schools list is created each year based on extensive research using public data sources for more than 8,800 schools nationwide, input from student veterans, and responses to

the proprietary, data -driven Military Friendly® Schools survey from participating institutions. The survey questions, methodology, criteria and weighting were developed with the assistance of an independent research firm and an advisory council of educators and employers. The survey is administered for free and is open to all post-secondary schools that wish to participate.

Criteria for consideration can be found at militaryfriendly.com.

Founded in 2001, VIQTORY is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) that connects the military community to civilian employment, educational and entrepreneurial opportunities through its G.I. Jobs® and Military Friendly® brands. VIQTORY and its brands are not a part of or endorsed by the U.S. Dept of Defense or any federal government entity. Learn more about VIQTORY at viqtory.com.

SWIC to hold tuition rate steady for fourth consecutive year

Good news for Southwestern Illinois College students. The Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to keep the tuition rate at $113 per semester credit for the 2021 school year.

The college has not raised its tuition or $6 information technology fee   or $3 student services fee since 2017. SWIC students pay only $122 tuition and fees per semester credit for classes, the lowest tuition rate in the state.

“The pandemic has caused financial hardships for so many people in our community,” said SWIC President Nick Mance. “The Board felt it would be in our students’ best interest to keep the tuition at an affordable, steady rate. We want to ensure a college education is accessible to all.”

SWIC students pay a fraction of state and private university costs. The average cost for a full-time student to attend SWIC for two years is $7,808. The average tuition for two years at a public university is $19,374 and a private university is $70,174, according to usnews.com.

“Students can save money by earning their associate degree at SWIC, then transferring to a university to complete their bachelor’s degree,” Mance said. “Or they can train for a variety of well-paying jobs in two years or less. Graduates can enter the workforce without massive student loan debt.”

Residents of Missouri and other surrounding states can also attend SWIC for only $122 per semester credit.

“We have a number of academic programs that community colleges in other states don’t have, so last year we opened the door to out-of-state students,” Mance said. “Out-of-state tuition was previously cost prohibitive; we’ve removed that barrier.” 

Some of SWIC’s more popular programs include: Aviation Maintenance Technology, Commercial Maintenance Mechanics, Industrial Maintenance Mechanics, Massage Therapy and Welding Technology.

The college recently added new programs such as Brewing Operations and Fermentation Science, Cannabis Industry Operations, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Medical Laboratory Assistant, and Practical Nursing.

For more information, visit swic.edu/tuition-fees.

SWIC offers 6-week online courses starting Dec. 1

Get ahead and complete the courses you need in only six weeks, wherever you are!

Southwestern Illinois College will offer 13 online courses that can be completed in six weeks during the semester break period, starting Dec. 1, 2020 and ending Jan. 11, 2021.

These classes provide students the opportunity to earn additional credits or finish degree prerequisites in a short period of time.

“These classes are perfect for SWIC students working toward a degree, or university students who need to earn some additional credits that will transfer to their institution,” said SWIC Chief Academic Officer Gina Segobiano, Ed.D. “Online courses in a variety of subjects make it more convenient to earn credit during the hectic holiday season.”

Courses available include:

• AOJ 258-SB1 Computer Forensics/Cyber Crime 3 semester credits  

• ART 101-SB1 Art Appreciation 3 semester credits  

• BIOL 106-SB1 Environmental Science 3 semester credits  

• BUS 209-SB1 Business Computer Systems 3 semester credits  

• COMM 151-SB1 Fundamentals of Public Speaking 3 semester credits  

• COMM 155-SB1 Interpersonal Communication 3 semester credits  

• HES 151-SB1 Personal Health and Wellness 2 semester credits  

• HRO 150-SB1 Nutrition 2 semester credits  

• HRO 120-SB1 Pharmacology 3 semester credits  

• HRO 100-SB1  Medical Terminology 1 semester credit  

• LIT  113-SB1 Introduction to Fiction   3 semester credits  

• MUS 101-SB1  Music Appreciation   3 semester credits  

• PSYC 151-SB1 General Psychology 3 semester credits 

Visit swic.edu/courses for details, or call Enrollment Services at 618-235-2700, ext. 5455.

SWIC Early Childhood Education Program Awarded $25,000 Competency-based Education Grant

Southwestern Illinois College Early Childhood Education program was awarded a $25,000 Illinois Community College Board Competency-based Education Grant. SWIC ECE Program Coordinator Carolyn Beal and SWIC Dean of Arts & Sciences Mary Ruettgers, Ed.D., co-created the grant application.

 According to the ICCB: This grant is designed to create and support Early Childhood Education competency-based education programs and projects in the community college system. Competency-based education focuses on determining a student’s achievement by evaluating proficiency within a set of learning outcomes and objectives moving away from traditional time-based constraints.

“This grant is a great opportunity for the SWIC Early Childhood Education Department and the SWIC community,” Ruettgers said. “Professor Beal has done a phenomenal job leading the SWIC ECE program as well as serving on many state-wide initiatives to further support Early Childhood Education. Initiatives such as these will help local ECE providers hire qualified candidates.”

Beginning with the Early Childhood Credential, between 2016-2017, all Illinois Gateways Credentials moved from standards and benchmarks to competencies. As a result, many colleges have worked to incorporate competency-based activities within their program framework and outcomes, including those related to technology. Many programs are also working to identify ways in which to observe and assess students in simulated or virtual reality scenarios. Through this grant project, grantees will have access to Mursion Technology, a virtual reality simulation platform, as well as technical assistance from ICCB and its partners.

SWIC is an Entitled Institution for ECE Credential Level 2-4, Infant/Toddler Credential Level 2-4 and Illinois Director’s Credential Level 1. 

This competency-based education grant will support the ECE program with the needed resources, technology and personnel to create modules, align modules with competencies, create assessments and rubrics, and access to virtual technology, Beal said.

The funding from this grant will support the creation of self-paced modules for students to meet the six-semester-credit requirement in Early Childhood Education to obtain the ECE level 2 credential or be lead-teacher qualified. 

For more information about the Early Childhood Education program, visit the swic.edu/ece or contact Beal at carolyn.beal@swic.edu.

2020 Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards

Annual Event Will be Held Virtually on September 16th

SPRINGFIELD – The Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (Commission) will present 27 Illinoisans and businesses with the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award during a special virtual event on September 16, 2020 at 2 p.m.

The award recognizes volunteers and volunteer programs that have made a difference in Illinois and highlights the importance of volunteerism and community service.

“These past few months have shown us once again that volunteers are the beating heart of Illinois,” said Commission Executive Director Scott McFarland. “We are honored to be able to highlight just a few of the nearly 3 million people in Illinois who give back.”

The Commission received more than 215 nominations in six categories (adult, AmeriCorps, business, senior, Senior Corps, and youth) from the Commission’s five service regions across the state (East Central, Northeast, Northwest, Southern, and West Central). Commissioners reviewed the applications and selected 28 award winners.

Deserie Gibson

Deserie Gibson of Belleville, the Southern Award recipient for Senior Corps, began her volunteer service in the Senior Companion Program in 2006. She has provided more than 20,000 hours of service during the past 14 years, and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. For the past eight years, Deserie visits her client, who has dementia, assisting with daily tasks and keeping her from harm. This client would have gone into memory care long ago if she didn’t have special attention from her Senior Companion.

Deserie feels “called” to help others. She spends her free time visiting others in a nursing home with their church ministry. She said, “Going where I can go, to help where I can help, is my mission.”

The impact that a Senior Companion can make in the life of one individual, keeping them from a nursing home for just one year, saves upwards of $75,000.

The following are the 2020 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award recipients. More information about the recipients is on the Serve Illinois website at www.Serve.Illinois.gov.

East Central Award Recipients

Adult: Teresa Bachtold – Forrest
For service to Harvest Call

AmeriCorps: Jalen Butler – Springfield
For service to Springfield Urban League

Senior: Shannon Nosbisch – Dieterich
For service to Effingham Public Library

Senior Corps: Valerie Beguin – Towanda
For service to Fostering Dignity

Youth: Aja Capel – Urbana
For service to 4-H

Northeast Award Recipients

Adult: Scott Milliman – Chicago
For service to Literacy Volunteers of Illinois at Illinois Youth Center Chicago

AmeriCorps: Kiamara Rodriguez – Chicago
For service to Center for Disability and Elder Law

Business: Abbott Laboratories Legal Department – Abbott Park
For service to Ascend Justice

Senior: Donna Adam – Des Plaines
For service to Clean Up Give Back

Senior Corps: Shirley Cassens – Harvard
For service to Senior Services Associates, Inc.

Youth: Kiran Mohan – Buffalo Grove
For service to Crescendo for a Cause

Northwest Award Recipients

Adult: Dan Portz – Fulton
For service to River Bend CUSD 2-Fulton High School Robotics Program

AmeriCorps: Linda Bolls – Kewanee
For service to Abilities Plus

Senior: Ted Brolund – Rockford
For service to Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity

Senior Corps: Marjorie “Midge” Murphy – Rock Falls
For service to Dillon Elementary School

Youth: Lucy Kuelper – Rio
For service to #MoveOver Project

Southern Award Recipients

Adult: Michael Moyers – Herrin
For service to Christopher Elementary School

Business: PNC Bank – Fairview Heights
For service to East St. Louis School District #189

Senior: Melody Shimada – Carbondale
For service to Carbondale Public Library

Senior Corps: Deserie Gibson – Belleville
For service to SWIC Programs and Services for Older Persons

Youth: Elijah Gunter – Scheller
For service to Sesser Jr. Football

West Central Award Recipients

Adult: Daniel Luthi – Washington
For service to American Red Cross

AmeriCorps: Deja Jenkins – Galesburg
For service to Illinois Justice Corps/Knox County Courthouse

Business: JIMAX Group – Peoria
For service to Tireless Project

Senior: Joel Estes – Knoxville
For service to Blessings in a Backpack

Senior Corps: Lloyd Lawber – Griggsville
For service to Pike County All Wars Museum

Youth: Abigail Oakley – Quincy
For service to Quincy Art Center

Later this fall, nomination forms will be made available for the Commission’s companion awards program, the Governor’s Hometown Awards. The Governor’s Hometown Awards program gives formal recognition to communities that contributed to their community’s quality of life via projects that had strong volunteer support, met a need, and made a definitive impact.

The Serve Illinois Commission is a 40-member (25 voting and 15 non-voting), bipartisan board appointed by the Governor and administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). Its mission is to improve Illinois communities by enhancing volunteerism and instilling an ethic of service throughout the State.

SWIC Receives $1.2 Million Workforce Equity Grant for 2021

A $1.2 million Workforce Equity Initiative Grant from the Illinois Community College Board will enable Southwestern Illinois College to continue offering its one-year career training programs in East St. Louis.

“We’re able to continue the incredible work we’ve been doing at the East St. Louis Higher Education Campus,” said SWIC Executive Director of Enrollment Development Bob Tebbe. “We look forward to expanding career pathway programs and helping students achieve their educational and career goals.”

SWIC received a $1.4 million WEI grant in 2020 to develop employment training programs to assist minorities in underserved communities. Those programs include certificates in Welding, Nurse Assistant, Food Service, Forklift Training, and Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. This year, 274 students completed certificate programs at ESLHEC.

Additional certificate programs for 2021 include Phlebotomy, Practical Nursing, and Help Desk.

“The goal is to provide underserved residents of the East St. Louis area with vital job skills so they can earn a prevailing wage,” Tebbe said.

The 2020 grant also allowed SWIC to purchase a food truck to teach a food service class and a mobile technical education trailer to teach precision machining in that community.

To help students start their new careers, SWIC has earmarked funds from the 2021 grant to provide a stipend to students who complete a certificate program and secure employment.

“Southwestern Illinois College is developing relationships with community programs and businesses to create a pathway for students once they complete the program to enter into employment,” said Programs Outreach Coordinator/ESLHEC Site Administrator Gary Cruise. “We are excited to receive the $1.2 million training grant and looking forward to SWIC being a part of changing lives.”

The award to SWIC is part of an $18.7 million ICCB grant to 17 community colleges throughout the state that serve larger African American and other minority populations.

While the first year of the initiative was impacted by the current health crisis, demand remained high with 1,840 Illinoisans enrolling in WEI programs in the spring of 2020.

With the support of Illinois’ Legislative Black Caucus and House Deputy Majority Leader Jehan Gordon-Booth, funding from the WEI allows participating colleges to develop or enhance training and career pathway programs in primarily five high demand employment sectors – health care, manufacturing and construction, transportation, information technology, and emergency services.

For the full WEI report visit:  http://www.illinoiswei.org/.

To find out how you can sign up for one of the WEI career training programs, contact Cruise at 618-874-6595 or leonard.cruise@swic.edu.

Get a jump on filing 2021-22 FAFSA Oct. 1 using 2019 taxes

If you want to maximize the amount of student financial assistance for which you are eligible, then set your calendar for Oct. 1. That’s the day you can begin to file your 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Early FAFSA completion allows for additional funding opportunities such as the Illinois MAP Grant, which has limited funding.

“The application is a student’s first step in receiving financial assistance for college educational costs,” notes Financial Aid Director Jessica Evans. “Beginning Oct. 1, students currently attending or planning to attend Southwestern Illinois College can file their 2021-2022 academic year FAFSA using 2019 tax information. By filing in October, students can be considered for programs, like Illinois MAP grants, which have limited funding.”

Early FAFSA also allows students and families to have a better understanding of the aid they’ll have available to go to school, enabling them to make a more informed decision about their school choices and plan for a student’s or family’s contribution to the educational costs. To file online, visit www.fafsa.gov.

For more information or questions about early filing, call Financial Aid
at 866-942-SWIC (7942): Belleville, ext. 5558; or email fin_aid@swic.edu.