Free tuition through Transform Lake County

Jules Lemond working on a car Published February 01, 2023

When an opportunity presented itself for Jules Lemond to return to school for free, it was a no-brainer. The Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) grant, called Transform Lake County at College of Lake County (CLC), allows him to make a career change toward auto collision repair at no-cost.

Transform Lake County focuses on expanding and providing equitable training opportunities for minority students in at-risk communities in high-demand fields. It allows individuals the ability to obtain full-time employment paying at least 30 percent above the regional living wage. In four years, CLC has received more than $4 million in grants from the Illinois Community College Board to support the initiative.

CLC will recruit and serve underrepresented, low-income and underemployed Lake County community members with workforce training, focusing on North Chicago, Waukegan, Zion and Round Lake. Students can apply to earn short-term career certificates in automotive collision repair, automotive technology, heating and air conditioning engineering technology or phlebotomy. Classes are taught at the Grayslake and Lakeshore Campuses.

Lemond first went to school 10 years ago at the Soma Institute Massage Therapy School in Chicago where he became a licensed massage therapist. He worked in the field doing sports therapy and deep tissue massage for seven years before it became too much for his physical health.

Looking for a career in automotive technology, Lemond thought about going back to school for about a year before hearing about the grant through an email his wife received.

“Being able to get a free education gave me the final push I needed to go back,” Lemond said. “I take education very seriously. If you have the option to go to school for free, you take it.”

With the scholarship, students also receive a stipend to help pay for living expenses. Lemond also works full-time at CarMax in Kenosha, WI, while going to school. The flexibility to take evening classes at CLC allows him to pursue an education while continuing the other parts of his life.

The scholarship was beneficial for Lemond as a career change, but he recommends the opportunity to anyone.

“Free school works for anyone regardless of age,” Lemond said. “If I had to give it a rating out of 10, I’d give it a 12.”

For more information about the grant and to apply, visit