Politics · September 10, 2020 0

Michigan Gov. Whitmer launches new, first in nation Futures for Frontliners program

Gov. Whitmer launches new, first in nation Futures for Frontliners program to offer essential, frontline workers a tuition-free path to community college

Education, labor, business, and workforce leaders join to urge Michigan’s 625,000 COVID-19 essential workers to apply now for tuition-free college

LANSING, MI (STL.News) Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, along with leaders in education, business, labor and workforce development, today launched the nation’s first program offering tuition-free college to an estimated 625,000 Michiganders who provided essential, frontline services during COVID-19 Stay Home, Stay Safe orders between April – June 2020.

Futures for Frontliners, inspired by the GI Bill which provided college degree to those serving their country in WWII, offers Michigan adults without college degrees or high school diplomas who provided essential services during the pandemic a tuition-free pathway to gaining the skills needed to obtain high-demand, high-wage careers.  The funding is not only available to those in the medical field, but also essential workers in manufacturing, nursing homes, grocery stores, sanitation, delivery, retail and more.

“This initiative is Michigan’s way of expressing gratitude to essential workers for protecting public health and keeping our state running,” Whitmer said.  “Whether it was stocking shelves, delivering supplies, picking up trash, manufacturing PPE or providing medical care, you were there for us.  Now this is your chance to pursue the degree or training you’ve been dreaming about to help you and your own family succeed.”

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 – June 30, 2020
  • Have been required by their job to work outside the home at least some of the time between April 1 – June 30, 2020
  • Not have previously earned an associate or bachelor’s degree
  • Not be in default on a Federal student loan
  • Complete a Futures for Frontliners scholarship application by 11:59 p.m., Dec. 31, 2020
  • Frontline workers are encouraged to visit www.michigan.gov/Frontliners to explore career opportunities, a list of local community colleges and get started on their application – even if they don’t already have a high school diploma.

The program is a $24M investment funded by Governor’s Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund – part of the CARES Act, and supports the state’s Sixty by 30 goal announced at the Governor’s first state of the state address to increase the number of working-age Michiganders completing an a industry certificate, college degree or apprenticeship.  A more educated workforce is essential to help businesses grow, make Michigan a more competitive state to attract jobs of the future and help families navigate a changing economy and increase income.

“The vast majority of good paying jobs continue to require at least some education beyond high school,” said Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio.  “Futures for Frontliners gives those who helped save lives and kept our communities operating during the height of COVID an opportunity to increase their skills and income and helps us close the state’s skills gap.  For Michigan’s economy to recover and grow, its critical we continue to provide expanded opportunities to all.”

Advocates for additional career training say Futures for Frontliners also helps them off-set training costs and provide another avenue for retention and long-term career growth.

Michigan manufacturers have been on the front lines in defense against the COVID-19 threat, creating essential products necessary for daily life; from food and pharmaceuticals, to transportation and even toilet paper,” said John Walsh, President and CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association.  “The Futures for Frontliners program will recognize these truly-deserving heroes, investing in their personal future as well as the economic future of our state.”

“As an employer of nearly 20,000 frontline associates here in Michigan and beyond, we are proud and thankful for each of our employees who stepped up to feed our customers and our communities during the pandemic,” Rachel Hurst Corporate Affairs Manager for the Kroger Co. of Michigan said.  “We’re excited for them to have this hard-earned opportunity to continue their education with support from the Futures for Frontliners program which pairs well with our Feed Your Future program.”

“With short staffing a challenge for our workers across many medical professions, this program helps create a pipeline of talent for our growing healthcare workforce,” said Andrea Acevedo, President of SEIU Healthcare.  Michigan Whether you are a hospital or nursing home worker, you can take advantage of this opportunity in nearly every workplace. I’m so excited for our union workers who now have the opportunity to add new skills that will help them advance in their careers.”

“Henry Ford College, and I personally, are proud to support the Futures for Frontliners program, and to partner with the State of Michigan and other public and private partners to help frontline workers create a better future,” said Russ Kavalhuna, Henry Ford College President. “We believe this program represents a unique, first-of-its-kind opportunity for people who have earned a College education.  They put themselves at risk to serve Michigan residents during a pandemic.  We will put their futures at the forefront now.”

Several other business organizations, corporations, unions and legislators have volunteered to serve as Frontliners Champions with a commitment to inform their frontline workers, members and constituents about this tuition-free college opportunity.

Futures for Frontliners Champions

Business Groups:

Business Leaders for Michigan
Community Bankers of Michigan
Detroit Chamber of Commerce
Detroit Fire Fighters Association
Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce
Health Care Association of Michigan
Michigan Association for Female Entrepreneurs
Michigan Association of Ambulance Services
Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police
Michigan Association of Counties
Michigan Association of Fire Fighters
Michigan Bankers Association
Michigan Chamber of Commerce
Michigan Credit Union League
Michigan Health and Hospital Association
Michigan HomeCare & Hospice Association
Michigan Manufacturers Association
Michigan Nonprofit Association
Michigan Oil and Gas Association
Michigan Petroleum Association & Michigan Association of Convenience Stores
Michigan Pharmacists Association
Michigan Public Transit Association
Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association
Michigan Retailers Associations
Michigan Sheriffs Association
Michigan Soft Drink Association
Michigan State Firemen’s Association
Midwest Independent Retailers Association
Small Business Association of Michigan
Telecommunications Association of Michigan
United Dairy Industry of Michigan

Consumers Energy
Home Depot
Unions (affiliated with AFL-CIO):

Amalgamated Transit Union
American Federation of Government Employees
American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
Communication Workers of America
International Association of Fire Fighters
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
Laborers’ International Union of North America
Unite Here
United Auto Workers
United Steelworkers
Utility Workers Union of America

Michigan Education Association
Michigan Nurses Association
Michigan Regional Council of Union Carpenters and Millwrights
Service Employees International Union Michigan State Council
Teamsters Joint Council #43
United Food and Commercial Workers 876
United Food and Commercial Workers 951

Jim Ananich
Rosemary Bayer
Stephanie Chang
Curtis Hertel, Jr.
Adam Hollier
Jeff Irwin
Sean McCann
Mallory McMorrow
Winnie Brinks
Dayna Polehanki
Jeremy Moss
Sylvia Santana
Laurie Pohutsky
Mari Manoogian
Terry J. Sabo
Jim Ellison
Padma Kuppa
Abdullah Hammoud
Alex Garza
Donna Lasinski
Kristy Pagan
Tyrone Carter
Kara Hope
Robert Wittenberg
Rachel Hood
Brenda Carter
Jim Haadsma
Cynthia A Johnson
Yousef Rabhi
Matt Koleszar
Leslie Love
Angela Witwer
Lori Stone
John G. Chirkun
Rebekah Warren
Cara Clemente
Sheryl Kennedy
Sarah Anthony
For the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.


Would love your thoughts, please comment.x