Chicago Construction News staff writer
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced $10 million for the third round of the Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program to provide training opportunities, expands the talent pipeline, and boost diversity in the construction industry and building trades. Grantees will be selected through a competitive Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) process.
Eligible applicants include non-profit, community-based organizations, such as industry associations, chambers of commerce, local workforce areas, community colleges, technical schools, and school districts. Experienced and new providers are encouraged to apply, along with existing Illinois Works grantees.
The Illinois Works Provider Network Organizations already approved can be found on the heat map as indicated by the yellow stars.
Funding amounts will range from $55,000 to $550,000. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 30 at 5:00 p.m. To view the NOFO and apply for the grant, visit the DCEO website. Interested parties are encouraged to reach out to CEO.GrantHelp@illinois.gov for application assistance.
“Since we first launched the program two years ago, hundreds of underrepresented Illinoisans have learned new skills and advanced their careers—further strengthening our world-class workforce that is as diverse as our great state,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “As we continue to Rebuild Illinois—from roads and bridges to airports and transit systems—my administration is committed to ensuring that every resident, no matter their background, has the opportunity to take part in our bustling trades and construction industries.
“This $10 million in additional funding for the Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program achieves exactly that—all while centering equity at every turn.”
The program launched in 2021 with the goal of increasing diversity and access to apprenticeship programs.
“The opportunities provided by the Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program are paramount to ensuring students are given the tools they need to thrive in the workforce,” said DCEO director Kristin Richards. “We’ve seen a great amount of success from previous rounds of Illinois Works and look forward to assisting pre-apprentices in every corner of Illinois while encouraging participation from historically underrepresented communities through this latest round of funding.”
The latest round of funding will focus on awarding grants in geographic areas without pre-apprenticeship programs, while increasing the representation of underrepresented groups that are not served or are underserved by existing programs, including Asian Americans, veterans, and women. About 45 programs will be funded throughout the state.
DCEO is expanding its statewide network of providers to recruit, prescreen, and provide pre-apprenticeship skills training. The program providers offer structured pathways and manage the program graduates’ transition from the pre-apprenticeship program to a full apprenticeship program in construction and building trades.
Participants attend tuition-free and receive a stipend and other supportive, barrier reduction services to help enter the construction industry. Upon completion of the program, pre-apprentices receive industry aligned certifications which will prepare and qualify them to continue to a registered apprenticeship program in one of the trades.
Applications are open to all Economic Development Regions, with a focus on expanding capacity in the following areas:
- Central Region (Region 1) – Sangamon County
- North Central Region (Region 3) – Peoria County, McClean County
- Northeast Region (Region 4) – DeKalb County, DuPage County, Kane County, Kankakee County, Kendall County, McHenry County, Suburban Cook County, Will County
- Northwest Region (Region 6) – LaSalle County, Rock Island County, Whiteside County
- Southeast Region (Region 7) – Marion County, Lawrence County
Southern Region (Region 8) – Jackson County