Free education for essential workers in Michigan is expanding into a pathway toward a four-year degree

The opportunity for essential workers in Michigan to earn a tuition-free degree during the coronavirus pandemic has just expanded.



a bridge over a body of water: A partnership with Eastern Michigan University and Henry Ford College offers a pathway for essential workers in Michigan during the coronavirus pandemic to earn a degree tuition-free.


© David Jesse/Detroit Free Press/USA Today Network
A partnership with Eastern Michigan University and Henry Ford College offers a pathway for essential workers in Michigan during the coronavirus pandemic to earn a degree tuition-free.

Eastern Michigan University and Henry Ford College announced a partnership on Wednesday that provides an affordable path toward a four-year degree to frontline workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release.

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Through the partnership, frontline workers who complete an associate degree at HFC and pursue a bachelor’s degree at EMU will be offered a scholarship at the university.

“Our frontline workers put themselves at risk to serve Michigan citizens during a pandemic. Now we are putting them at the forefront by supporting their futures,” said HFC President Russ Kavalhuna. “This new partnership between Henry Ford College and Eastern Michigan University is an exciting opportunity for frontliners to extend their education even further. It will maximize their investment in themselves as they seek new or advanced careers.”

The collaboration is the first of its kind and extends HFC’s participation in Michigan’s “Future for Frontliners” program that offers scholarships to essentials workers without an associate or bachelor’s degree to earn one at no cost from a local community college, according to a release.

“Michigan’s frontline workers have worked tirelessly around the clock for months to maintain essential services and to keep our communities safe,” Eastern Michigan University President James Smith said in a statement. “This new scholarship initiative is an extension of the excellent collaboration we have had with Henry Ford College for many years and provides a new opportunity to reward frontline workers by creating an affordable path to a college degree.”

The “Futures for Frontliners” program, first announced in April, was inspired by the federal government’s support of soldiers returning from World War II by providing them with educational opportunities, according to a press release issued by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office earlier this year.

Those eligible for the “Future for Frontliners” scholarship program include: those working in hospitals or nursing homes, grocery store employees, child care workers, sanitation workers and those who deliver supplies.

The EMU scholarship offered through the partnership is available to new students who enroll at university.

“This is great news for the hundreds of thousands of brave men and women who have been serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s good news for our economy,” Whitmer said in a statement on Wednesday.

“From the beginning, creating paths to prosperity for more Michiganders has been a top priority for my administration. I’m proud that our state has developed a way to give back to the Michiganders who have been working around the clock to protect us, and I am grateful for this partnership between Henry Ford College and Eastern Michigan University to help more people get on a path to opportunity.”

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JP Morgan Chase announces $7 million commitment to Nashville career pathway programs

Nashville is one of six cities slated to receive $7 million from JPMorgan Chase to support career pathways for underrepresented students, the company announced Tuesday.



a sign on the side of a road: JP Morgan Chase & Co. | Banking, financial services | 2019 employees: 10,000 | 2018 employees: 10,400 | Ownership: Public | Headquarters: New York | www.chase.com


© Andrew Burton/Getty Images
JP Morgan Chase & Co. | Banking, financial services | 2019 employees: 10,000 | 2018 employees: 10,400 | Ownership: Public | Headquarters: New York | www.chase.com

The commitment is part of JPMorgan Chase’s New Skills at Work investment, one branch of the company’s $350 million, five-year global initiative that aims to meet a growing demand for skilled workers, according to a news release from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

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In Nashville, the New Skills Ready program will support underrepresented students from four Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools high schools as they transition to Nashville State Community College, where they will earn credentials or degrees in anticipation of entering the workforce.

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“Nashville has built a strong foundation for career and technical education,” Erika Wright, head of philanthropy for JP Morgan Chase in Tennessee, said in the news release. “This investment will expand and enhance that important work to provide high-quality career pathways to students who had been left behind in Nashville’s powerful economic transformation.”

Whites Creek, Pearl-Cohn, Maplewood and Overton high schools will be the project’s initial focus. Each of these schools serves high concentrations of economically disadvantaged students and students of color, according to the release.

The New Skills Ready program aims to address and reduce barriers to education and employment that these students face, including systemic inequality and barriers to post-secondary opportunities and work-based learning, allowing students to pursue non-traditional pathways to high-demand careers.

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“Thanks to the support of JPMorgan Chase, we can provide even greater opportunities and pathways for our students so that they can leave high school and be prepared to succeed in our growing economy,” MNPS Director Adrienne Battle stated in the release. “Our partnerships with Nashville State and the Nashville Chamber will help to show our students their unlimited potential if they work hard and focus on their future success.”

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce will steward the program in cooperation with multiple state and local partners in both public and private sectors.

Partners include:

  • Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
  • Nashville State Community College
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • The Scarlett Family Foundation
  • The Tennessee Department of Education
  • The Tennessee Higher Education Commission
  • The Tennessee Board of Regents
  • The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development
  • Employers

In addition to Nashville, Denver, Dallas, Boston, Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio will receive funds as part of the New Skills Ready program.

Cassandra Stephenson covers business at The Tennessean, part of the USA Today Network

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