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College of Lake County Selected to Join New Project to Advance Racial Equity in Manufacturing

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Feb 01, 2022

College of Lake County (CLC) will join a new national project led by The Century Foundation (TCF), the Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA), eight urban workforce development organizations concentrated in the Midwest and twelve other community colleges across the country. The groups, selected through a competitive process and funded by Lumina Foundation, will strategize solutions to the U.S. manufacturing sector’s ecosystem building, develop credential-based training programs to create a more racially inclusive future for manufacturing, and help deepen relationships between employers and communities.

“We are thrilled CLC was selected as a part of this national effort,” said CLC Dean of Engineering, Math and Physical Sciences Richard Ammon. “Since manufacturing is one of the largest industry employers in Lake County, it is critical we ensure racial equity as we rebuild the future workforce in manufacturing.”

“The new Advanced Technology Center opening in Gurnee this summer will expand CLC’s credential program capacity and connect students directly to manufacturing jobs, ensuring a more racially equitable future for the manufacturing industry,” said Director of the Advanced Technology Center Jon Hardbarger.

Even before the pandemic began, bringing a renewed focus to manufacturing as capacity shifted to producing millions of pieces of medical and personal protective equipment, the industry was growing rapidly. Pre-pandemic estimates indicated the United States needed an additional 2.4 million manufacturing workers over the next decade.

It’s critical that these coming manufacturing jobs are not just filled, but are accessible to all people, particularly people of color, who faced unemployment during the pandemic at disproportionate rates. Beyond the pandemic, people of color have long faced barriers to attaining well-paying and sustainable jobs due to systemic racism throughout our society, including employment. Manufacturing’s rebirth in the U.S. presents a critical opportunity to open the sector’s well-paying jobs to more workers of color. 

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has painfully reminded us, far too many people have been left out and left behind for far too long,” said President Bill Clinton, Founder and Board Chair of the Clinton Foundation. “With this economic recovery, we have both a rare opportunity and a moral imperative to build an economy that is truly inclusive and give every person the chance to succeed. We know that when organizations are more inclusive, they are more successful. Community colleges by their very nature are inclusive and promote opportunity for all. This commitment by the Urban Manufacturing Alliance and The Century Foundation, by partnering with community colleges across the country, is helping widen the circle of opportunity and increase racial equity in the manufacturing sector.”

This coalition was announced as a commitment to action through the Clinton Global Initiative’s Action Network on Inclusive Economic Recovery and Growth.

“Community colleges are uniquely positioned to connect more people, particularly people of color, to well-paying and sustainable jobs, such as those in the manufacturing industry,” says Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at TCF and one of the organizers of the coalition. “Our coalition will work to align credential programs at community colleges with the industry, and to ensure that a more diverse workforce feels supported and is able to take advantage of such opportunities. We are excited to include thirteen community colleges across the country in this work as they are already critical resources to their communities and students.”

"Manufacturing provides much-needed opportunities for equitable economic development in American cities. The past few years have underscored the importance of local production ecosystems, from producing essential personal protective equipment to responding to increased demand for energy efficient materials, and much more, " says Lee Wellington, Executive Director at the Urban Manufacturing Alliance and co-organizer of the coalition. "We are thrilled to welcome and partner with this new cohort as they deepen opportunities for communities of color and women to succeed in manufacturing careers." 

“Helping adult learners – particularly adults of color - gain the skills and credentials necessary for today’s economy requires close collaboration and partnerships between community colleges and employers,” says Lumina’s Vice President for Learning and Work Chauncy Lennon. “We applaud The Century Foundation and Urban Manufacturing Alliance for launching the next Industry & Inclusion Cohort and putting a focus on equitable opportunities in manufacturing.”

As part of the Industry and Inclusion 2.0 cohort, CLC will work with TCF, UMA, and twelve other community colleges across the country: Bishop State Community College (Mobile, AL); Pima Community College (Tucson, AZ); Sierra College (Rocklin, CA); Norco College (Norco, CA); Community College of Denver (Denver,  CO); Ivy Tech Community College (Indianapolis, IN); Hawkeye Community College (Waterloo, IA); Baton Rouge Community College (Baton Rouge, LA); Forsyth Tech Community College (Winston-Salem, NC); Lorain County Community College (Elyria, OH); Houston Community College (Houston, TX); and Milwaukee Area Technical College (Milwaukee, WI). The project is supported by Lumina Foundation, a national philanthropy focused on equity and educational attainment and based in Indianapolis. 

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.