Michigan Works! announces support for front line workers

BENTON HARBOR — Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren is on a mission to help southwest Michigan frontline pandemic workers make informed decisions about their next steps of applying and attending college at no cost.

That mission started with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Future for Frontliners program.

“The Future for Frontliners program is a great option for individuals who served on the frontlines of the pandemic and who are hoping to build on their education and training to make higher wages and ultimately fill the needs of our communities,” said Lily Brewer, executive director of Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren. “We are very excited to give back to the heroes of our region by helping them find training, education, and career path that interests them now and in the years to come through this initiative.”

The program offers free tuition to individuals who worked in essential industries during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown but do not have college degrees. It covers the cost of associate degrees, certificates and high school equivalency exam.

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 1 to June 30
  • Have been required by their job to work outside the home at least some of the time between April 1 to June 30
  • Not have previously earned an associate or bachelor’s degree
  • Not be in default on a federal student loan

“We will help individuals make informed decisions based on regional data, trends, and their desired length of education. Then we will connect them to one of our local education and training providers in the region to apply for the training or education program of their choice,” Brewer said.

Applications at both Lake Michigan College and Southwestern Michigan College are open now through Dec. 31, with students eligible to start classes in January. To apply at LMC, visit lakemichigancollege.edu/frontliners or call 927-6596. To apply at SMC, visit swmich.edu/applynow.

All Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren sites are currently closed for walk-in services. To schedule a phone or in person appointment with Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren, visit miworks.org or call (800) 285-WORK (9675). For more information about the program, visit Michigan.gov/Frontliners.

Michigan Works! of Berrien, Cass, Van specializes in educating, training, and employing individuals of all ages.

“We work with local businesses to find out what keeps them up at night and help them tackle the most pressing challenges they may face, including attracting and retaining talent,” Brewer said.

For more information, visit miworks.org.

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