United Way of Metro Chicago and the Nicor Gas Foundation are expanding their Neighborhood Network Initiative into Elgin, making a $600,000 investment in local community education efforts.
Elgin became the 14th Neighborhood Network Initiative in the Chicago area, with money pledged to increasing early education preparation, building a trauma-informed care school culture and ensuring students leave high school prepared for the global workforce, officials announced Wednesday.
They will be working with the Elgin-based Alignment Collaborative for Education to distribute funds — $150,000 annually for four years — to programs that help achieve those goals.
“United Way has a longstanding relationship and partnership with the Elgin community,” Sean Garrett, CEO/president of United Way of Metro Chicago, said in announcing the program.
Three Elgin High School students work on a vehicle in the school’s automotive laboratory. The Elgin Neighborhood Network Initiative will help fund programs that will train students in skills like auto repair. (School District U- / HANDOUT)
“Along with the Nicor Gas Foundation, we are thrilled to work with our partners at Alignment Collaborative for Education to launch the Elgin Neighborhood Network and reaffirm United Way’s commitment to the residents of Elgin,” he said. “Our goal is to continue to work together to build a community where everyone can reach their potential and thrive.”
The nonprofit agency’s Neighborhood Network Initiative launched in 2013 as a community-led approach to transforming neighborhoods. The United Way works with private partners, like Nicor Gas Foundation, to fund the effort.
“Today is exciting,” Nicor President/CEO Wendell Dallas said at the Elgin High School event. “I just want to say thank you very much for allowing us to share our passion about this.”
The Alignment Collaborative for Education will work to address critical student needs in School District U-46, including preparing teens for the workforce, officials said.
Dallas said he had experience in workforce development as a supervisor when he began his career with Nicor 25 years ago. He recalled there were a lot of candidates for jobs, but only a few had the necessary skills, he said.
U-46 has made training students for the workforce a priority, something Dallas lauded. “These are life-changing skills. These are life-saving jobs,” he said.
Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain also spoke at the event, which included a tour of U-46′s Automotive, Healthcare and Welding programs. He founded the Alignment Collaborative for Education in 2015 as a means of creating the future workforce Elgin will need, he said.
“If we can’t have an educated workforce in our city, our city will fail,” Kaptain said.
This content was originally published here.