West Side organizations get $1.4 million to prepare residents for construction


North Lawndale’s Safer Foundation, East Garfield Park’s Revolution Workshop and Chicago Women and Trades, which is located on the Near West Side, were among 23 Illinois organizations that received $9.6 million in grants from the to fund pre-apprenticeship programs for women and people of color. interested in entering the construction industry.

All three West Side organizations have programs to help minorities in the city who belong to a demographic group that is underrepresented in the construction industry and/or who face barriers to employment in the industry.

The grant is part of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Illinois Works program, which aims to address longstanding racial and gender disparities in the construction industry while increasing the number of people who can work on projects funded by the Rebuild Illinois Capital Bill. . The program is expected to qualify approximately 1,000 Illinois residents, mostly from Chicago, for construction apprenticeships.

According to a 2020 Illinois Department of Labor report, only 4% of construction apprentices in Illinois are women and only 29% are people of color. The Illinois Works program was created to address this disparity through several grant programs.

Construction Pre-Apprenticeship Program grants help defray the costs of programs that train “populations underrepresented in construction and building trades” with programs that specifically prepare them for public works projects.

The training will give participants the skills and experience they would need to enter the apprenticeship programs, which are necessary for anyone to become a trades professional. The program also includes support for obtaining an apprenticeship. Illinois Works accepted the first round of applications in 2021.

“Program participants will participate tuition-free and receive a stipend and other support services to help overcome systemic barriers to entry into the construction industry,” according to the Illinois Works website.

“By supporting pre-apprenticeship training programs that primarily serve [women and people of color] – while providing the holistic support necessary for participants to succeed – these grants will help participants overcome barriers to entering apprenticeship while simultaneously creating a sustainable pipeline of qualified and diverse candidates for the future economy.

The Safer Foundation, which received $500,000, helps formerly incarcerated residents find stable, stable work and rebuild their lives. Although it is currently headquartered in the Loop and has multiple facilities in Illinois and Iowa, it has a notable presence in North Lawndale, providing service at 2839 W Fillmore St and 800 S. Kedzie Ave. Safer Foundation offers several vocational training programs, including training for carpenters, electricians and construction project managers.

Revolution Workshop, 3410 W. Lake St., got $400,777. According to its website, it was founded in 2017 by “skilled trades employers and workforce development leaders” to train youth and adults from underserved communities, with a particular focus on youth. blacks, in construction and woodworking.

In addition to tackling racial disparities, the founders wanted to tackle the fact that the commercial workforce is shrinking and aging, even as construction demand increases. In addition to providing the training, Revolution Workshop covers the trainees’ transportation costs.

Chicago Women in Trades (CWIT), 2444 W. 16and St., got $500,437. The organization ensures that women who wish to work in the manufacturing and construction trades have access to information, training and employment opportunities. In a statement, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity officials said CWIT would use the grant to launch a brand new pre-apprenticeship program that is expected to help up to 50 women in trades.

Austin Weekly News reached out to Safer Foundation and Revolution Workshop for comment, but did not receive a timely response.

In a statement to the media, Jayne Velinga, executive director of CWIT, called the grants “a unique moment for the advancement of women and people of color” who work in the trades.

“Chicago Women in Trades applauds the state’s timely investment in pre-apprenticeship training and contractor incentives to grow the diversity of Illinois’ high-paying construction workforce,” it said. she declared.

Governor JB Pritzker said the program will help create “nearly 1,000 pre-apprenticeships” that will give participants skills they can use to “earn a family wage and succeed in the jobs of tomorrow.”

“My administration is committed to supporting equitable and accessible workforce training programs for all Illinois residents, regardless of background or neighborhood,” he said.

For more information on this and other Illinois Works grants, visit the website here.

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