Castro-supported initiative to invest additional $15 million in pre-apprenticeship program grantsSPRINGFIELD – Thanks to State Senator Cristina Castro’s support of the Illinois Works and Rebuild Illinois initiatives, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced another round of funding will be invested in Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program grants. The $15 million in funding will expand equity in Illinois’ construction workforce, grow the pool of highly-skilled apprentices and increase access to building trades careers more broadly.

The Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program is designed to increase the number of qualified construction and building trades apprentices who are women, people of color and veterans, and prepares them to enter full apprenticeship programs on their way to careers in the construction and building trades.

“A career in the building trades comes with so many benefits: a living wage, a dignified retirement, and opportunities to excel while helping to build our communities,” said State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin). “I am proud to support the Illinois Works initiatives as they continue to invest in our skilled workforce and create more opportunities for people of color, women, and veterans.”

The latest round of funding will provide grants to a statewide network of nonprofit, community-based organizations to provide free support, wraparound services and skills training to pre-apprenticeship candidates. The program will also provide stipends to ensure those enrolled in pre-apprenticeships have access to transportation, child care and other services that otherwise could serve as barriers to pursuing a career in the trades.

Passed by Senate Democrats in 2019, the Illinois Works Jobs Program Act is designed to promote diversity, inclusion, and use of apprentices in state-funded capital projects. The act created three major programs: the Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program; the Illinois Works Apprenticeship Initiative, and the Illinois Works Bid Credit Program. Together these three programs aim to create a talent pipeline of skilled and diverse candidates to fill new job opportunities created by the act.

The deadline to apply for an Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program grant is Sept. 27, 2022 at 5 pm. Qualified community-based organizations can find more information about the funding and resources for applying by visiting the Notice of Funding Opportunity.

More information for those interested in enrolling in the Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program can be found on the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website.