The Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) was established
in 2019 as an innovative partnership with Illinois Community College
Board (ICCB), the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, and community
colleges. The WEI consortium works to create, support, and expand
job training opportunities for areas with identified workforce
skills gaps. The grant supports short-term training opportunities,
career and technical education certificates, and stackable
credentials at Heartland.
Eighty-six WEI scholars were recently recognized for completing
programs directed toward certification for in-demand jobs. These
high-impact programs develop and foster the skills of individuals
that are looking to retool their job skills or directly enter into
the workforce. Heartland certification programs such as EV
Maintenance, Medical Assistant, Office Assistant, Truck Driver
Training, and more, are designed to create a quick pathway to
occupations earning 30 percent above the area living wage.
In December of 2021 Heartland received a $1M WEI grant from the
Illinois Community College Board to engage African American, Latinx,
and low-income learners to get career training that can move them
quickly into the workforce.
The Workforce Equity Initiative grant will have served 100 learners
in 2022, 92.5 percent of whom are African American.
“Heartland continues to expand our programs to ensure
every resident in the district can come and discover,” said Terrance
Bond, Assistant to the President for Equity, Diversity, and
[to top of second column]
“This WEI program is providing
immediate resources to engage adult, underemployed, or
unemployed learners who may be cautious about higher education.
Some WEI scholars are headed right to the workforce with a
short-term certification, and others are advancing in programs
that require additional study.”
The grant funds tuition for learners accepted into
the program, and also a series of services including success
coaching and career navigation support, fees and technology support,
transportation, and childcare needs.
“With WEI we are changing lives in real time,” said WEI Program
Coordinator Tony Jones, “We provide individuals with the opportunity
to elevate themselves by getting credits and training for new
Heartland offers 42 Workforce stackable certificates and credentials
leading to immediate careers and building towards an associate
degree. Prospective learners who are interested in workforce
programs may be eligible for a number of scholarship opportunities.
Visit heartland.edu for more information.
Assistant to the President, Public Information and Communication
Heartland Community College]