grant program

Giving back to essential workers

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A new Michigan program supports the educational goals of essential workers.

Frontline workers have made sacrifices during the pandemic to keep their communities safe and healthy. Now, Michigan workers are getting some support from the state. The Futures for Frontliners program will provide workers with a scholarship to attend a Michigan community college free of charge starting in January.

Futures for Frontliners specifically supports Michiganders who worked in essential industries during the April 1–June 30 period but do not have a college degree.  They can pursue an associate degree or a skills certificate on a full-time or part-time basis while they continue to work.

The program also helps state residents without a high school diploma or equivalency. They can get services to help them prepare for and complete their diploma and go on to a community college or job training program.

Futures for Frontliners was unveiled by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at a Sept. 10 press conference. Whitmer was joined by Henry Ford College President Russell Kavalhuna and business leaders.

There are an estimated 625,000 Michigan citizens who have served as essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. They work in industries such as health care, financial services, food and agriculture, law enforcement and first responders, water and wastewater and transportation.

“They put themselves at risk to serve Michigan residents during a pandemic,” Kavalhuna said. “We will put their futures at the forefront now.”

Kavalhuna called the launch of the program the best news he’s heard in months.

Other community college presidents across Michigan are celebrating, too.

“Providing these front-line workers in essential industries with access to tuition-free community college — even if they don’t have a high school diploma or equivalency — to pursue their career and personal dreams is a wonderful way to say ‘thank you’ — they certainly earned it,” Northern Michigan College President Nick Nissley said in a release.

And West Shore Community College President Scott Ward said, “Access to tuition-free classes for frontline workers to pursue or advance their career is a way to thank these individuals. We hope many in our area will take advantage of this opportunity.”

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.