Workforce Development

Welding a Path for Previously Incarcerated

Award funds tuition and supplies for previously incarcerated students in a professional certification course leading to family-sustaining wages.

Hudson County Community College (HCCC), Jersey City, is one of 10 community colleges nationwide to have been named to the Metallica Scholars Initiative Cohort 4, an initiative spearheaded by the All Within My Hands (AWMH) Foundation.

As a recipient of a $100,000 award, the college will provide instruction and a pathway to certification in welding for previously incarcerated individuals. The life-changing HCCC program will be offered in partnership with the New Jersey Reentry Corporation and the Governor’s Reentry Training and Employment Center in Kearny.

The Metallica Scholars Initiative funding will provide students with tuition, textbooks, materials, Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)10 training, consumables, helmets, safety glasses, jackets, and exam fees for American Welding Society certification. The scholars will also receive support from Hudson County Community College Student Success Coaches, plus tutoring, case management, financial services, food pantry groceries, and other basic needs beyond the classroom.

“Training and certification in welding, an in-demand, high-wage occupation, will be transformational for these students as they strive to overcome a host of barriers and secure a positive future,” said HCCC President, Dr. Christopher Reber. “We are very proud to have been chosen for this selective cohort and value the opportunity to offer a lifeline to a promising future for the students and their families. This training will prepare a much-needed workforce for our community.”

Since establishing the Metallica Scholars Initiative in 2019, the All Within My Hands (AWMH) Foundation has been working with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to provide direct support for career and technical education programs across the United States. Having grown from a concept to a strategic and thriving educational priority that focuses on enhancing skills and supporting students who want to enter a traditional trade or other applied learning program, the Metallica Scholars Initiative has generated a proven and measurable impact. AWMH is replicating the program further by adding the ten colleges in Cohort 4 to the roster, and investing $1.8 million for the expansion.

“Our goal for the Metallica Scholars Initiative is to shine a light on workforce education and support the next generation of tradespeople. With the addition of the 2022-23 Metallica Scholars program, our grants will reach over 2,000 men and women in 32 community colleges across 27 states,” stated All Within My Hands Executive Director, Pete Delgrosso. “We are honored to support these students of all ages and backgrounds and look forward to growing the program even further in the future.”

Nearly every industry in New Jersey depends on the construction sector for physical growth. Welding is key to the success of many construction and manufacturing projects. The trade requires fresh and professionally trained talent as current welders age out of the field. The American Welding Society reports that by 2025, the United States will be faced with a shortage of more than 400,000 welding professionals.

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