Building Beyond Tomorrow

Workforce Opportunities for Resilient Communities (WORC)

Securing Decatur's Future Through Strategic Workforce Development

Workforce Opportunities for Resilient Communities (WORC) is dedicated to transforming the local workforce landscape through innovative and accessible programs. Our initiatives are designed to connect residents with the tools and opportunities needed for meaningful employment and career advancement. By integrating real-time labor market insights with comprehensive career pathways and targeted training, WORC is committed to fostering economic growth and enhancing the quality of life for all community members, especially those from historically underserved backgrounds. Join us in our mission to empower and uplift through education, employment, and strategic collaboration.

Empowering Our Community

Decatur faces acute employment challenges, particularly among its Black population, where a significant employment gap persists due to historical and systemic barriers. Over the past decade, shifts in local industry and demographic changes have further exacerbated these issues, underscoring the need for a targeted intervention. The Workforce Opportunities for Resilient Communities (WORC) initiative, led by Richland Community College, seeks a $47 million grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to address systemic employment barriers and activate sustainable economic renewal.

Program Highlights

Workforce Ecosystem Platform

Revolutionizes how employers and training institutions identify candidates, and transforms residents’ access and engagement with the local job market, providing a clear, interactive guide to career opportunities in Decatur.

Impact: Creates a well-connected workforce ecosystem to showcase economic opportunity and connect and employers and residents to well-paying jobs. Offers insights into job availability and career paths, empowering all community members to achieve economic mobility and improved quality of life.

Delivers robust training in trauma-informed essential skills and technical skills in high-demand sectors, aligning closely with industry needs to ensure relevant job placements.

Growth: Aims to enroll an additional 1,900 participants over five years, addressing urgent labor market demands in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, and construction.

"I came to Richland because I wanted to make a change in my life and to be able to provide for my family. That’s the dream right there."
Shamar Graves
EnRich CDL Program

Prepares at-risk high school seniors with essential career skills and academic support, creating direct pathways to employment or further education.

Achievements: Targets a 90% graduation rate among participants, significantly enhancing Decatur’s economic resilience.

Offers vital before and after-school care that aligns with parental work schedules and enhances student learning.

Impact: Supports 1,200 students and 1,400 parents annually, providing critical care that allows parents to sustain employment while students receive educational enrichment.

Provides targeted support to employed but financially vulnerable residents, helping them stabilize and improve their economic situations through comprehensive services.

Scope: Set to assist 5,700 participants with financial aid, counseling, and connections to other WORC programs for skill advancement.

"The WORC initiative is not just closing the prime age employment gap, but setting a new standard for workforce development. I am proud to support this transformative project that promises substantial economic growth and an improved quality of life for Decatur residents."
Governor JB Pritzker
State of Illinois

Leadership

Dr. Cristobal Valdez

President, Richland Community College

Rev. Courtney Carson

Vice President of External Affairs & EnRich, Richland Community College

Gina Taylor

Director of EnRich, Richland Community College

Ashley Grayned

Executive Director of Innovative Programs and Strategic Planning, Decatur Public Schools

Debra Bogle

President, United Way of Decatur & Mid-Illinois

Nicole Bateman

President, Economic Development Corporation of Decatur-Macon County

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