Kaskaskia College SEALS Program Helps African-Americans, Other Racial Minorities with Workforce Education and Placement

February 24, 2021

KC Staff with Community Leaders

Pictured (l-r) Mike Conley, Director of Workforce Engagement & Career, Cheryl Boehne, Regional Director of Education Centers, Dr. Susie Batchelor, Vice President of Student Services, CORRDE Chairperson Bunny Garrett, and Mayor Herb Williams.

Kaskaskia College has received a grant from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) that provides African Americans and other racially minoritized persons with the resources they need to compete in today’s working world.

The Serving With An Equity Lens (SEALS) program is designed to provide the education and placement services to enable participants to be job-ready in less than a year, in one of several careers and technical education programs. As part of the workforce readiness aspect of the program, SEALs will pay $500 to each participant who successfully completes a course of instruction in essential employability skills.

Any African American or racially minority person who wants to earn or finish a workforce credential or degree is invited to apply, including:

• High school seniors planning to attend Kaskaskia College
• Current or withdrawn Kaskaskia College students
• Out-of-school youth and adults
• Military veterans
• Adult education students and alumni
• Displaced workers

Kaskaskia College administration has partnered with several local organizations, such as Centralia Youth Center and the Committee on Reducing Racial Disparity (CORRDE), to collaborate on the program’s effectiveness.

“I believe the SEALS program will and should have a great effect on the Centralia and surrounding communities. This program will provide opportunities for so many individuals to improve upon their economic and family situation or educational background,” said Herb Williams, mayor of the City of Centralia. “It can and will improve the stability of so many individuals in many ways.”

Williams also stated that this program would indicate to employers that our area can and will support their needs for qualified workers to allow their business to grow and compete in today's competitive market.

The SEALS program includes funding to provide up to 75 minority students to earn a certificate/credential. The program’s benefits include tuition, books, course fees, advising, job placement support, academic/training assistance, and childcare or transportation for those who need it, all at no financial cost to participants.

“CORRDE is committed to working with other organizations and employers to identify where there is racial disparity and to work with these groups to provide solutions to increase the visibility of people of color in the workplace,” said Bunny Garrett, chairman of CORRDE. “By helping to identify more effective outreach initiatives, we share success with our community partners, including SSM Health, City of Centralia Municipal Services, Police and Fire Departments, and especially with Kaskaskia College.”

Garrett also expressed gratefulness for the partnership with Kaskaskia College. “KC has consistently included and apprised CORRDE of initiatives and programs that will help pave the way to the inclusion of more people of color in their programs and our regional workforce,” said Garrett.

Participants may choose from several careers and technical education programs, including some that can be completed in a semester or less, such as Certified Nurse Assistant, Carpentry, Welding, and Truck Driver training. At the educational program's conclusion, Kaskaskia College personnel will assist participants in career placement or connect them to the appropriate resources to allow them to continue their education and training.

“In exchange for the Illinois Community College Board’s financial commitment, participants will be asked to apply their best efforts to completing their chosen programs of study and preparing themselves for the workforce,” according to grant coordinator Cheryl Boehne.

Those who wish to apply or learn more about the program should contact Cheryl Boehne, Regional Director of Education Centers, at cboehne@kaskaskia.edu or 618-545-3486. All information is available online at https://www.kaskaskia.edu/academics/workforce-equity-initiative.


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