By Sherry Sokolowski
Metallica’s All Within My Hands program has given Grand Rapids Community College a third grant to assist more non-traditional students acquire critical welding skills.
GRCC is one of 23 colleges in the country to have received the grants – not to mention, it is the only institution in Michigan to do so. The grants are funded by the band in collaboration with the American Association of Community Colleges.
The Metallica Scholars program was created as a support for students and to highlight the significance of technical and career education. The band’s co-founder, James Hetfield, met with GRCC’s President Bill Pink after a performance in Grand Rapids in 2019. Hetfield said that the members are determined to continue emphasizing the importance of community colleges and professional trades.
GRCC’s Workforce Training program was awarded $25,000 to assist their program, which is targeted towards underrepresented members of the community. The program allows them to gain hands-on welding experience and other career abilities.
The college collaborates with local employers to allow students to have site visits, mentoring opportunities, and employee panels to help them figure out if welding is a proper fit for their goals. Each student also has specialized career-preparation to ensure they are career-ready once their welding license is completed.
Last year, GRCC student Krista Steffens was honored by the Michigan Department of Education with a 2020 Breaking Traditions Award. The award was given to students who conquered obstacles and succeeded in career and technical education programs.
Initially, GRCC was one of just 10 programs selected for the Metallica Scholars program back in 2018 and was brought in again in 2020.
Walter G. Bumphus, President and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, said he is proud to work with Metallica to propagate career and technical education provided by community colleges across the country.
“Colleges across the country provide pathways to well-paying jobs through programs, services and training that lead to in-demand skills, certificates and degrees for students,” Bumphus stated in a press release. “These programs are responsive to the needs of local businesses and provide a pipeline of qualified workers to local industry. It’s a win-win for our students and the local economy. For Metallica to continue to invest in these students and communities is a testament to the power of the workforce education community colleges provide and we are proud to do this work with them.”