Thirteen community colleges will join leading workforce organizations to advance a racially inclusive future for manufacturing

Washington, DC — A cohort of 13 community colleges from across the country have been selected to join a coalition, led by The Century Foundation (TCF) and the Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA), focused on building ecosystems and increasing racial equity in the manufacturing sector. This coalition also includes eight workforce development organizations and a national advisory board. 

The Industry and Inclusion Cohort (I&I), funded by Lumina Foundation, began in 2020 at a critical time for the U.S. manufacturing industry as it shifted to produce millions of pieces of medical and personal protective equipment as a part of our fight against the pandemic. Nearly two years later, manufacturing continues to attract renewed attention, and the industry is growing: even before the pandemic began, estimates indicated that the United States needed to recruit over two million additional manufacturing workers over the next decade to meet supply shortages and increasing demand. 

While the pandemic brought about the rebirth of the manufacturing industry, it also caused record unemployment across sectors, particularly for people of color who became unemployed at disproportionate rates, compounding the effects of systemic racism that make it more difficult to attain well-paying jobs in the first place. The current growth of manufacturing allows an opportunity to recreate a more equitable manufacturing industry. To ensure all people, and especially people of color, have access to skilled manufacturing jobs, training for such opportunities must be widely available and easily accessible.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has painfully reminded us, far too many people have been left out and left behind for far too long,” said President Bill Clinton, Founder and Board Chair of the Clinton Foundation. “With this economic recovery, we have both a rare opportunity and a moral imperative to build an economy that is truly inclusive and give every person the chance to succeed. We know that when organizations are more inclusive, they are more successful. Community colleges by their very nature are inclusive and promote opportunity for all. This commitment by the Urban Manufacturing Alliance and The Century Foundation, by partnering with community colleges across the country, is helping widen the circle of opportunity and increase racial equity in the manufacturing sector.”

This coalition was announced as a commitment to action through the Clinton Global Initiative’s Action Network on Inclusive Economic Recovery and Growth.

“Community colleges are uniquely positioned to connect more people, particularly people of color, to well-paying and sustainable jobs, such as those in the manufacturing industry,” says Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at TCF and one of the organizers of the coalition. “Our coalition will work to align credential programs at community colleges with industry needs, and to ensure that a more diverse workforce feels supported and is able to take advantage of such opportunities. We are excited to include thirteen community colleges across the country in this work as they are already critical resources to their communities and students.”

The community colleges that will join the Industry and Inclusion 2.0 cohort include:

  • Bishop State Community College (Mobile, AL): Founded as a historically Black institution to promote opportunities for African-American teachers, Bishop State is up-and-coming for promoting well-paying manufacturing jobs along the Mobile Bay. In their last phase of building an Advanced Manufacturing Center, their cohort membership will focus on creating pathways for communities of color and women into pipefitting careers.
  • Pima Community College (Tucson, AZ): An active member of the Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partners (SAMP), Pima is a national educational leader in industry partnerships and apprenticeships. The college is committed to increasing representation for women and students of color in their four advanced manufacturing programs.
  • Sierra College (Rocklin, CA): A Hispanic-Serving Institution, Sierra is undertaking a college-wide effort to improve pedagogical strategies to support Black students and close equity gaps. Through this mission, the college will intentionally attract more students of color and women into manufacturing careers. 
  • Norco College (Norco, CA): Manufacturing is the top economic sector in Norco, CA, but barriers persist for students of color seeking upward mobility. As an Hispanic-Serving Institution, Norco will use multilingual efforts to develop an outreach strategy in manufacturing for diverse communities. 
  • Community College of Denver (Denver,  CO): Nationally, less that four percent of women are welders, but the Community College of Denver, a Hispanic-Serving Institution, is increasing this representation through employing female welding instructors and mentoring women students. As a member of the cohort, the college will increase the numbers of women of color who are earning a welding credential.
  • College of Lake County (Grayslake, IL): The College of Lake County is located in the second largest manufacturing county in Illinois. With manufacturing as a prominent source of employment, the college will center equity and workforce development on the campus and outside community. 
  • Ivy Tech Community College (Indianapolis, IN): Indiana’s only full-fledged community college, Ivy Tech is a leader in credentials and an apprenticeship intermediary. In the cohort, the college will focus on increasing students of color in manufacturing programs.  
  • Hawkeye Community College (Waterloo, IA): Waterloo, IA, is one of the most diverse cities in Iowa and a center of manufacturing, yet communities of color are not represented in these industries. Hawkeye Community College is committed to developing strategies to better reach, support, and position students of color for careers in the manufacturing sector. 
  • Baton Rouge Community College (Baton Rouge, LA): Baton Rouge Community College’s local industry and community partnerships have demonstrated the impact of an ecosystem approach to work-based learning in manufacturing. The college has also employed innovative, culturally competent strategies to directly serve and meet the needs of students of color pursuing manufacturing careers. 
  • Forsyth Tech Community College (Winston-Salem, NC): Forsyth Tech has been a leader in creating pathways into advanced manufacturing fields through the Learn and Earn Apprenticeship Program (LEAP) and strong industry partnerships.  The college will leverage these partnerships to create more sustainable career pathways for students of color in manufacturing careers. 
  • Lorain County Community College (Elyria, OH): Building on an institution-wide commitment to equity, Lorain will continue to scale its work to create impactful, evidence-based strategies to meet the needs of its students. The college will focus on centering equity approaches such as trauma-informed services and deepening industry and community partnerships. 
  • Houston Community College (Houston, TX): One of the largest Hispanic-Serving Institutions in the country, Houston Community College and its Center of Excellence in Smart Manufacturing are critical resources in serving students of color seeking manufacturing careers. The college will build awareness of the need for more diversity in manufacturing at the national level, and strengthen work-learning models with industry partners. 
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College (Milwaukee, WI): MATC apprenticeship programs have had a track record of success in placing both high school and adult students in manufacturing, construction, and technical careers. Through this coalition, MATC will hone its approach to advancing equity goals in its manufacturing programs. 

“Manufacturing provides much-needed opportunities for equitable economic development in American cities. The past few years have underscored the importance of local production ecosystems, from producing essential personal protective equipment to responding to increased demand for energy efficient materials, and much more, ” says Lee Wellington, Executive Director at the Urban Manufacturing Alliance and co-organizer of the coalition. “We are thrilled to welcome and partner with this new cohort as they deepen opportunities for communities of color and women to succeed in manufacturing careers.” 

“Helping adult learners—particularly adults of color—gain the skills and credentials necessary for today’s economy requires close collaboration and partnerships between community colleges and employers,” says Chauncy Lennon, Vice President for Learning and Work at Lumina Foundation. “We applaud The Century Foundation and Urban Manufacturing Alliance for launching the next Industry & Inclusion Cohort and putting a focus on equitable opportunities in manufacturing.”