Skip to main content

Grand Rapids Community College Returns for Year Five of All Within My Hands’ Metallica Scholars Initiative

September 1, 2023 Grand Rapids, Mich. Grand Rapids Community College has been awarded a fifth grant from Metallica’s foundation, All Within My Hands, to help more nontraditional students gain in-demand welding skills.

The Metallica Scholars Initiative (MSI) was launched in 2019 by All Within My Hands  in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges. MSI added 11 new schools and now directly supports 42 community colleges across 33 states. GRCC was one of the first ten colleges to be supported by the legendary band when it started the Metallica Scholars program, and is currently the only one in Michigan.

“The investment that All Within My Hands has made has resulted in over 89 individuals from West Michigan achieving welding and machining skills that probably would not have if not for the band Metallica promoting skilled trades,” said GRCC President Charles Lepper.  “We are honored that AWMH has chosen us to be a recipient for the year five cohort.”

The AWMH foundation has provided GRCC with $240,000 over five years. The grant helps continue the Metallica Scholars Welding Bootcamp program aimed at attracting women and other underserved community members; giving them career skills as well as hands-on welding experience.

“The Metallica Scholars Initiative is so important to us because we are seeing results,” said Lars Ulrich, drummer and co-founder of Metallica. “Five years in, with the help of schools like GRCC, we are helping people fill these essential jobs which require skills and training. We are so proud and grateful that we can facilitate this program.”

Mother-daughter duo Tanya Contreras and Cheyenne Belonga went through the GRCC program together.

 “Not only has it provided us with valuable skills for entry-level welding positions,” Belonga said. “But it has also opened our eyes to a world of possibilities.”

To qualify for the program, participants must be 18 years of age, have a high school diploma/GED, and be able to work in the United States. It is a short-term program to get welders to work in West Michigan, with the goal of helping them grow into apprenticeships or other learning opportunities within the welding field.

“The Metallica Scholars Initiative is a strong and cooperative assemblage of the nation’s best community colleges, creating a supportive climate for participants to communicate directly and share best practices,” said Peter Delgrosso, AWMH executive director. “As a result, our Metallica Scholars leave the program well-trained and confident. Ultimately, the impact is felt locally and nationally as Metallica Scholars enter the workforce and fill in-demand technical positions.”

Partners like Metallica help highlight the importance of  community colleges.

“We are happy to continue to partner with Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation to support the vital career and technical education work of the nation’s community colleges,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC’s president and CEO. “Colleges across the country provide pathways to well-paying jobs through programs, services and training that lead to in-demand skills, certificates and degrees for students.  These programs are responsive to the needs of local businesses and provide a pipeline of qualified workers to local industry. Partners like Metallica that continue to provide support for community colleges help us to showcase the importance of investing in the transformative power of community college education.”

Additional information about the program is available at

Media Contact