Fifth Third Bank Foundation grant will support GRCC’s ESL workforce training program

Nov. 15, 2018 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. A grant from the Fifth Third Bank Foundation will support a Grand Rapids Community College program that combines English as a Second Language classes with workforce training.

The $100,000 grant will be used for the English as a Second Language Integrated Workforce Training Program, which will help residents learn English while training for careers in one of three high-demand occupations in manufacturing: welding, machining, and certified production technician.

The Fifth Third Foundation announced Thursday that GRCC was among the West Michigan nonprofits awarded 2018 Strengthening Our Communities Fund grants. 

“We are honored by the Fifth Third Foundation's investment in West Michigan, and helping Grand Rapids Community College serve our community and manufacturing employers,” said Julie Parks, GRCC’s executive director of Workforce Training. “We’re striving to empower people, giving them a wide variety of skills for good jobs and good careers.”

Residents who don't speak English face greater challenges in completing high school and post-secondary education, creating a barrier to success in training for good jobs.

The GRCC program helps residents build language skills in the context of technical vocabulary, employability skills, and job readiness outcomes.

Students work with a success coach who provides intensive counseling, financial literacy education -- using the Fifth Third Finance Academy, as appropriate -- and case management services.

The success coach also helps the participants set short- and long-term goals and develop an adult learning plan and a career portfolio that will guide them to the next step for career readiness.

GRCC partners with neighborhood associations to recruit students. The Literacy Center of West Michigan assists the college in delivering the occupational English curriculum. GRCC instructors deliver the manufacturing technical training, success coaching, and arrange student interviews with manufacturing employers to aid in job placement.

Fifth Third awarded grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 in the region. Other recipients included Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, Northern Initiatives and the Women’s Resource Center, the Literacy Center of West Michigan, and Start Garden.

 “We are committed to making community investments that improve lives, strengthen families and build strong communities in West Michigan,” said Tom Welch, president of Fifth Third’s West Michigan region. “We believe these grants provide meaningful support to the efforts of these organizations to build and maintain strong, vibrant communities and that provide pathways to opportunity in our community.”

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.


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