Recognizing it as a truly remarkable option for essential workers across the region, the team at Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren is on a mission. They have established a new focus to help southwest Michigan frontline pandemic workers make informed decisions about their next steps of applying for and attending college at no cost.
Lily Brewer, Executive Director of local office of Michigan Works! in Southwest Michigan says, “The Futures for Frontliners program is a great option for individuals who served on the frontlines of the pandemic and who are hoping to build on their education and training to make higher wages and ultimately fill the needs of our communities.” She adds, “We are very excited to give back to the heroes of our region by helping them find training, education, and a career path that interests them now and in the years to come through this initiative.”
The Futures for Frontliners program offers free tuition to individuals who worked in essential industries during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown but do not have college degrees. It covers the cost of associate degrees, certificates and high school equivalency exam.
To be eligible for the program, applicants must:
- Be a Michigan resident
- Have worked in an essential industry at least part-time for 11 of the 13 weeks between April 1 to June 30, 2020
- Have been required by their job to work outside the home at least some of the time between April 1 – June 30, 2020
- Not have previously earned an associate or bachelor’s degree
- Not be in default on a Federal student loan
Brewer promises, “We will help individuals make informed decisions based on regional data, trends, and their desired length of education. Then we will connect them to one of our local education and training providers in the region to apply for the training or education program of their choice.”
Applications at both Lake Michigan College (LMC) and Southwestern Michigan College (SMC) are open now through December 31st, with students eligible to start classes in January. To apply at LMC, visit http://www.lakemichigancollege.edu/frontliners or call 927-6596. To apply at SMC, visit http://www.swmich.edu/applynow.
All Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren sites are currently closed for walk-in services. To schedule a phone or in-person appointment with Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren, visit http://www.miworks.org or call (800) 285-WORK (9675). For more information about the program, visit http://www.Michigan.gov/Frontliners.