Linking Talent with Opportunity Making an Impact

Linking Talent with Opportunity Making an Impact

Rock Valley College recently received the third year of grant funding for the “Linking Talent with Opportunity” (LTO) initiative from the Dr. Louis and Violet Rubin Endowment of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL). The $225,000 for the 2021 fiscal year fulfills the three-year, $675,000 commitment CFNIL made to RVC and Highland Community College to develop and implement a new educational “Pathways” model for RVC and Highland district high schools and business partners.

Under the “Pathways” model, students can graduate high school with high school and college credits, and/or industry recognized credentials that will have them college, career, and life ready. 

Previous years’ grant funds have been used to hire “Pathways” coordinators at RVC and Highland, as well as for support resources and professional development for the coordinator positions.

Over the first two years of the LTO initiative, RVC has developed seven pathways (Public Safety, Information Technology, Business, Health Care, Advanced Manufacturing, Mechatronics, and Supply Chain Management) and have executed Memorandums of Understanding with five school districts (Belvidere, Harlem, Rockford, South Beloit, and Winnebago) to implement “Pathways.” RVC has also met its goals under LTO to increase dual credit coursework delivered at school districts by 20% and expand remedial math and reading offered at local school districts by 20%.

“The generous and innovative grant from CFNIL has assisted Rock Valley College in developing educational pathways that lead to occupations paying a sustainable living wage,” said Gina Caronna, RVC Vice President of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math. “More importantly, it has enabled RVC and Highland to enhance work with the regional community to develop a stronger talent pipeline for our local workforce.”

“Rock Valley College is extremely appreciative of the support provided through the Linking Talent with Opportunity grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois,” said Patrick Peyer, RVC Vice President of Student Services. “The work of the past two years has evidenced the tremendous interest in building meaningful academic pathways for high school students to experience college through dual credit programs. Pathways helps students clearly map the importance of academic preparation with career exploration and discovery, while earning college credit. Stacking courses within a career pathway also helps diversify the students’ skillsets and earn a certificate leading to enhanced employment opportunities.”

“The Community Foundation has a longstanding commitment to supporting educational systems in our region. Watching LTO gain momentum, reach – and exceed – anticipated outcomes, and seeing previously untapped partnerships become vital connections has been incredible,” said Sarah Lambert, CFNIL Community Investment Director. “As the single-largest grant CFNIL has ever made, we are immensely proud that the work of RVC, HCC, and so many partners has already achieved great success and will continue to impact the educational landscape in northern Illinois in the years to come.”