The Parkland College Blog

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.

Parkland SWFT-GCPA Program Grads Receive Trades Jobs

5 Parkland SWFT grads accepted into apprenticeships

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Parkland College students who recently graduated from a state-funded workforce equity program have moved immediately into local trades apprenticeships to continue training.

By their July 23 graduation from the Support for Workforce Training-General Construction Pre-Apprenticeship program (SWFT-GCPA), the following students have been accepted into 3-year apprenticeships with Laborers' Local 703: Brandin Whiteside (Champaign), Dorothy Porter (Paxton), Tyson Moore (Champaign), Teva Lasley (Bloomington), and Graciela Manriquez (Champaign). 

"We extend our congratulations to our SWFT-GCPA students on this accomplishment," said Stephanie Stuart, vice president for communications and external affairs. "This group of students met an opportunity with hard work and determination, resulting in success during one of the most challenging times in modern history. Their story is a testament to the limitless potential of our students and the effectiveness of equity-focused workforce initiatives like the Workforce Equity Initiative. We thank the legislature for its foresight in creating this statewide initiative that will accelerate the recovery of our state’s workforce through an equity lens."

Backed by a $1.5 million Illinois Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) grant, Parkland's Support for Workforce Training Program aims to help more than 150 district residents move into high-demand careers with family-sustaining wages within a year or less. Parkland College was one of 15 community colleges selected to take part last year in the $18.5 million WEI, which aims to train 1,500 adults statewide for jobs in areas with a high demand for workers. The WEI was designed to address historic underrepresentation of African Americans in high-demand, high-wage careers, thus requiring 60 percent of Parkland's SWFT participants to be Black.

The SWFT-GCPA program helps increase the number of underrepresented people in the high-wage construction building trades which are currently experiencing a skilled labor shortage. Training consists of an intensive 14-week training period to learn the skills necessary for acceptance into the construction trades and the opportunity for a career with high wage-earning potential.

SWFT Program Manager Jessie McClusky praised the graduates' persistence to complete the pre-apprenticeship program and the subsequent results. "We are all proud of the accomplishment and success of our General Construction students," she said. "The students' belief in themselves, adaptability, and perseverance, paired with the support of staff and instructors, truly cultivated a life-changing experience amidst a time of uncertainty. For some, this opportunity would not have been possible without the SWFT funding through the WEI."

For more information about SWFT, please visit or contact the SWFT Program office at 217/353-2149.

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

College for Kids, Summer Discovery Camps Canceled

Community Education will offer year-round youth workshops in flexible formats instead

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For the first time in its 40-year history, Parkland College will not be providing its College for Kids (CFK) summer youth program due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The college's Summer Discovery camps for teens also have been canceled for summer 2020.

Parkland's hands-on summer camps play a vital economic development role in District 505 communities, according to Community Education Director Triss Henderson. Youth get to explore science, technology, engineering, arts and math in a wide variety of classes specifically designed for hands-on learning and fun on a college campus. Teens experience careers such as welding, automotive, drones, land surveying and mapping, construction, forensics, robotics, coding, music and culinary. These camps help youth determine their strengths and career interests in an interactive and safe environment.

"It is disappointing to cancel all of these amazing summer opportunities, but the safety of our youth and staff is our number one priority," she said.

Terry Thies, Community Education's youth program manager and summer camp coordinator, called these sessions the highlight of summer for many families. "We offer a unique program for families that not only engages students in innovative learning but develops a student's curiosity,” she said.  "At the core of this is the emphasis our staff places on building relationships with students and fostering a love for learning."

Community Education will continue to offer year-round youth workshops in flexible formats and plans to restore CFK and Summer Discovery to full operation next summer. Youth in need of help attending camps also can receive help next summer through the department's scholarship fund.

"We will be investing our time and resources to create new and exciting learning opportunities for our youth, so be on the lookout this summer and throughout the year!" Henderson said.

For more information on College for Kids and other Community Education youth camps, visit

Remote Career Support by Parkland Career Services

New resource from Career Services for currently unemployed, new students

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Unemployed community members and students seeking career help will benefit from a new resource from the Parkland College Career Services unit.


The new initiative, Remote Career Support, features an informative web page,, as well as direct virtual assistance from a designated Career Services advisor.


Parkland College's Career Services department began the effort in late March to help community members and students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote Career Support provides vital services such as job postings, free career assessments, resume-writing assistance, interview preparation tips, job-finding resources, and guidance for students selecting a major. The new web page will be updated frequently, with multiple modes to assist students remotely, including immediate access to information and recordings of live information sessions.

While students and residents can still email for assistance, Remote Career Support’s designated career counselor, Brennon Hightower, is also available to provide remote virtual assistance through her direct email, With more than six years of academic advising experience under her belt, Hightower is well-prepared to tackle the unique challenges students and community members are facing during the current crisis.


"My goal is to be available to students and the Parkland community who need information and resources that assist in securing employment opportunities, as well as to help undecided students choose a major," Hightower said. "While a lot of information is currently being developed and shared remotely, I am looking forward to working with students and the community directly."