Press Releases
April 07, 2014

U.S. Department of Labor awards Manufacturing Renaissance with a $2.7 million grant

Manufacturing Renaissance will benefit from a grant to participate in the Youth CareerConnect.

Today, President Obama announced that Manufacturing Renaissance has been awarded a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to participate in the Youth CareerConnect program through its program at Austin Polytechnical Academy.

Manufacturing Renaissance, in partnership with Chicago Public Schools and the Austin Polytechnical Academy staff, has developed a comprehensive approach to preparing the next generation of talent and leadership for manufacturing at Austin Polytech. This innovative and sustainable high school initiative is known as the Manufacturing Careers & College Connect program. Through the MCCC, employers and other partners will prepare students for college and life through career mentoring, field trips to manufacturing companies and trade shows, job shadowing experiences, paid internships, summer jobs, industry-recognized machining credentials, full-time employment after graduation, and pursuit of postsecondary education in engineering or manufacturing pathways.

“With this grant, we now have the opportunity to build the APA program and take our approach to a larger scale in the Chicago Public Schools and around the country” said Dan Swinney, Executive Director of the Manufacturing Renaissance, an independent nonprofit organization working to rediscover, redefine and rebuild advanced manufacturing in the knowledge economy.

This initiative represents a full partnership between Manufacturing Renaissance, Chicago Federation of Labor, Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges of Chicago, the Chicago/Cook Workforce Partnership, the Chicago Workforce Funders Alliance, and local manufacturing companies.

“There are approximately 20,000 vacant manufacturing jobs in this region, and the number will continue to increase as baby boomers retire,” said Jorge Ramirez, President of the Federation of Labor. “The Austin Polytech model and its sister programs will help pipeline skilled workers to fill these positions by providing the training that gives students the experience they need for high-skilled, high-road manufacturing. Chicago has always been central to the U.S. manufacturing industry. This grant will give Austin Polytech the ability to continually develop and advance its program as technology continues to evolve.”

Overall, the U.S Department of Labor has awarded $107 million in grants to 23 other school systems, community colleges and educational agencies. This grant from the U.S. Department of Labor will complement the $70 million grant for a Digital Lab that was recently awarded to the City of Chicago by the U.S. Department of Defense.

“This is all a product of the work of the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council and its leaders, such as Jorge Ramirez, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor, and Steve Kersten, CEO of WaterSaver Faucet,” said Swinney. “We would not have been successful in securing the grant, and we won’t be successful in meeting our objectives without our strong partnership with Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges of Chicago, the Chicago/Cook Workforce Partnership, the Chicagoland Workforce Funders Alliance, and the scores of manufacturing companies that contribute to this school and to public education on the West Side.”

Youth CareerConnect grant program encourages schools to redesign curriculum for the 21st century economy. It combines classroom study with hands-on work experience to give students the practical experience and the skills they need for future success.

To learn more about Austin Polytechnical Academy, click here.