The Parkland College Blog

Parkland's Project READ Receives 2021 Spotlight Awards

Project READ Recognized with State Award

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Project READ at Parkland College has won Spotlight Awards from Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jessie White.

White's office announced the awards Thursday during the Spotlight On Literacy Awards for Outstanding Literacy Students and Tutors, a virtual ceremony honoring 10 volunteer tutors and 10 learners in Illinois literacy programs.

Project READ graduate Belinda Guillen received the Spotlight on Achievement Award, and tutor Linda "Penny" Lopez earned the Spotlight on Service Award.

"Two years ago, I could not construct a complete sentence in English," Guillen wrote in her application essay. "Now, I can communicate better, and it has had an impact on my life. Project READ has been very helpful to me, due to the excellent tutoring I received."

Guillen works as an outreach team leader at the New American Welcome Center for the University YMCA. She serves as a trusted link between various organizations and Spanish-speaking community members to help address their needs. 

For Lopez, the win is all about love and acceptance.

"As a team, we have added to our understanding and acceptance of the people around us," she shared in her essay. "I learn so much from my students. I am honored as they share their lives and customs. I am awed at the effort they put into learning a new language.

"It is a reason to get up in the morning and make a difference. I believe that what the world needs now is love, and understanding each other is part of that path."

For more information about Project READ, please visit, email, or call 217/351-2580.

Parkland SWFT Program Receives Funding for Second Year

The Support for Workforce Training program will be funded for a second year, supported by State Rep. Carol Ammons

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Parkland College announced today that the Support for Workforce Training (SWFT) program has been refunded for a second year. In collaboration with the Illinois Community College Board and State Rep. Carol Ammons, SWFT will be able to continue to provide free, short-term training to underserved populations in the college's district.
Backed by a over $1 million Illinois Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) grant, Parkland's SWFT program aims to help more than 150 district residents move into high-demand careers with family-sustaining wages within a year or less. The WEI grant aims address historic underrepresentation of African Americans in high-demand, high-wage careers, thus requiring African Americans to comprise 60 percent of the population served by the SWFT program. 

The initiative was spearheaded by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus with strong support from State Rep. Carol Ammons. 

“As Chair of the House Higher Education Committee, my most fervent goal is to increase access to education. Knowing that I contribute to tearing down the inequitable barrier of cost for so many looking to build a better future is what makes this work worth it," she said. "I have very much enjoyed watching Parkland implement its Workforce Equity Initiative put forth by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and I am proud to know they will be receiving financial support to continue this life-changing program. The Black Caucus remains committed to expanding access to education across the state and we thank Parkland for their partnership.”

Along with providing tuition, fee, and book waivers for training and stipends to help tackle higher education-access barriers, the initiative will address local workforce gaps and employment barriers in an effort to prepare skilled workers to move into employment upon program completion. Participants who are eligible and awarded funding will receive wraparound support services, such as academic counseling, career advising and workshops, and new this year is the incorporation of essential skills training.

Students may select from 14 Parkland College degree or certificate programs in four technical career categories: construction and manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and distribution, and business and IT services. Career options vary widely and include general construction and welding; office assistant, CompTIA A+, and Google IT professionals; sterile processing technician and CNA; and truck driver CDL and forklift, among others. Programs can be completed in a year or less.

Spring enrollment is underway. To begin the process, interested individuals should visit  

Those eligible for the incentives may include incumbent workers, unemployed persons, members of underrepresented minority groups, those receiving SNAP benefits and other need-based aid, recently incarcerated persons and ex-offenders, those receiving housing assistance, and others demonstrating financial need. 

The grant period began November 2020 and extends through October 2021.

For more information, please visit or contact the SWFT program office at 217/353-2150.

Project READ to Resume In-Person Tutoring at Parkland College

In-person tutoring to resume on campus in the Center for Community Engagement (C-134)

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Parkland College announced today that the Adult Education program Project READ will resume in-person tutoring on campus in the Center for Community Engagement (C-134) on Wednesdays from 10am-2pm, and at the Champaign Public Library from 9:30-11:30am on Fridays. 

The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) is operational with select programming appropriate for a COVID-19 safety guidelines. Project READ will offer services such as: socially-distanced in-person tutoring; online tutoring support (bring your own device); learner intake and assessment; individual consultations; and practice with remote learning, such as logging-in. Tutors and their learners will be provided educational materials to take home for online tutoring or in-person tutoring at a public location. 

Project READ offers free, learner-centered ESL, Literacy, and Math tutoring services to adult learners who seek to improve their basic reading, writing, math, and English skills. Nearly one in five Illinois residents struggle with these skills—help support and improve quality of life for the hundreds of adult learners Project READ services each year by joining the community of volunteers that make this program possible.

Project READ is currently training new tutors online and facilitating online tutoring instruction. Become a tutor today! Must be 17 years of age or older, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and have knowledge of basic math, reading, and English. Visit to get started.

For more information on free tutoring, becoming a tutor, or any other questions, please contact a Project READ team member at or call 217/353-2662. You can also connect with Project READ on Facebook here.

Parkland Now Offering Online Tutor Training with Project READ

Project READ offers safe ways to volunteer from home

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Parkland College announced today that the Adult Education program Project READ will be offering new, interactive online platforms for volunteer tutor training, learner intake, tutor support, and tutor-learner introductions. Project READ offers free, learner-centered ESL, Literacy, and Math tutoring services.

Through the facilitation of the Project READ team, learners and tutors are meeting for the first time by using Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime, and Skype. Since March, 15 new volunteer tutor trainees have started developing their knowledge of best-practices in adult learning and tutoring through video chat with Project READ staff and interactive online lessons. Tutors are fully supported by the Project READ staff through email, phone, and video chat. The team is also hard at work to safely and effectively distribute instructional resources (such as whiteboards, workbooks, and digital lessons) to all volunteers and their learners. The staff aims to train at least 70 new tutors this fiscal year and pair them with learners who come to us to improve their English, reading, writing, and math skills.

The next two virtual sessions of “Introduction to Tutoring with Project READ” will be held on August 17, from 6–8 pm and August 19, from 12–2 pm. Register and access the complete online training program here.  

For more information on free tutoring, becoming a tutor, or any other questions, please contact a Project READ team member at

Parkland Career Training Programs Eligible for State Funding

8 Community Education career programs have been approved to receive funding through the Illinois Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

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Residents who cannot afford career training may be able to receive help from the state of Illinois to obtain certification through Parkland College's Community Education courses.
Parkland College Community Education recently announced that eight of its career programs have been approved to receive funding through the Illinois Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). WIOA is a grant program sponsored by the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission that assists qualifying adults in receiving the financial support needed for career training. 

These programs and more are available through Community Ed's July-September 2020 brochure:

  • Customer Service Representative Career Prep 

  • Medical Admin. Assistant Career Prep 

  • Mastering Computer Skills for the Workplace 

  • Dialysis Technician 

  • EKG Technician Career Prep 

  • Home Health Aide with Medical Terminology 

  • JavaScript Specialist 

  • Comp TIA A+Network+Security+ 

The state assistance brings a total of seventeen WIOA-approved programs available at Community Education. Each Parkland program is in-demand and can be completed in as little as one semester and will prepare students to take the related certification exams. 
Those that are interested and believe they may qualify for WIOA assistance should contact the Illinois WorkNet Center at 217/531-8282. For more information about Community Education's Personal and Professional Development opportunities, see