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Michigan Governor Launches ‘First In Nation’ Futures For Frontliners Program To Offer Essential Workers A ‘Tuition-Free Path’ To Community College - Labor Leaders Join To Urge Michigan’s 625,000 COVID-19 Essential Workers To Apply Now

Published Tuesday, September 15, 2020
by Michigan Governor’s Office Press Release
Michigan Governor Launches ‘First In Nation’ Futures For Frontliners Program To Offer Essential Workers A ‘Tuition-Free Path’ To Community College - Labor Leaders Join To Urge Michigan’s 625,000 COVID-19 Essential Workers To Apply Now

(LANSING, MICHIGAN) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer, along with leaders in education, business, Organized Labor and workforce development, has launched the Nation’s first program offering tuition-free college to an estimated 625,000 Michiganders who provided essential, front line services during the COVID-19 Stay Home, Stay Safe orders (between April and June 2020).

Futures for Frontliners, inspired by the GI Bill which provided college degrees to those serving their country in WWII, offers Michigan adults without college degrees or high school diplomas who provided essential services during the pandemic a tuition-free pathway to gaining the skills needed to obtain high-demand, high-wage careers.

The funding is not only available to those in the medical field, but also Essential Workers in manufacturing, nursing homes, grocery stores, sanitation, delivery, retail and more.

“This initiative is Michigan’s way of expressing gratitude to Essential Workers for protecting public health and keeping our state running,” Whitmer said. “Whether it was stocking shelves, delivering supplies, picking up trash, manufacturing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) or providing medical care, you were there for us.  Now this is your chance to pursue the degree or training you’ve been dreaming about to help you and your own family succeed.”

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 1st and June 30th, 2020; Have been required by their job to work outside the home at least some of the time between April 1st and June 30th, 2020; Not have previously earned an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree; and Not be in default on a Federal Student Loan.

The program is a $24M investment funded by Governor’s Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund - part of the CARES Act, and supports the state’s Sixty by 30 goal that was announced at the Governor’s first state of the state address to increase the number of working-age Michiganders completing an a industry certificate, college degree or Apprenticeship.

A more educated workforce is essential to help businesses grow, make Michigan a more competitive state to attract jobs of the future and help families navigate a changing economy and increase income, State Officials said.

Unions involved in the program are: The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU); the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE); the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); the American Federation of Teachers (AFT); the Communication Workers of America (CWA); the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF); the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT); the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA); The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 324; Unite Here; the United Auto Workers (UAW); the United Steelworkers (USW); the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA); the Michigan Education Association; the Michigan Nurses Association; the Michigan Regional Council of Union Carpenters and Millwrights; Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Michigan State Council; Teamsters Joint Council 43; and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 876 and 951.

"With short staffing a challenge for our Workers across many medical professions, this program helps create a pipeline of talent for our growing health care workforce," SEIU Michigan Healthcare President Andrea Acevedo said. “Whether you are a Hospital or Nursing Home Worker, you can take advantage of this opportunity in nearly every workplace.  I’m so excited for our Union Workers who now have the opportunity to add new skills that will help them advance in their careers."

To Read This Labor News Story In Its Entirety, Go To: www.michigan.gov/frontliners/0,9886,7-412-100916-539206--,00.html

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