GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- Grand Island's Central Community College has received a $4 million U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Apprenticeship Building America grant.

The DOL awarded more than $121 million to 30 organizations to strengthen and modernize existing registered apprenticeship programs.

CCC plans to use the funds to create a multi-network registered apprenticeship hub along with Northeast Community College and Southeast Community College and other support partners. The coalition will serve 59 counties or half of the state’s population.

“On behalf of our CCC students and employers in Nebraska, I am thrilled we were chosen to lead this cooperative effort with our outstanding Northeast Community College and Southeast Community College peers and the Nebraska Department of Labor,” said CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall. “This grant will allow us to reach more individuals seeking to improve their workforce skills, while actively working and earning a wage with area employers.”

Project ELEVATE, as it’s known, is meant to expand the utilization of registered apprenticeships in rural central and eastern Nebraska through activities centered on promotion and outreach, education and employer supports. The colleges will develop apprenticeship occupations, utilizing their educational programs and courses as the required related training, in collaboration with industry advisers.

“Since CCC started its Registered Apprenticeship Program in 2021, participation has grown to 15 apprentices and eight companies,” said Catrina Gray, CCC apprenticeship coordinator. “Because of this grant, the success we’ve seen in one year, and the addition of Northeast and Southeast, I am looking forward to an even greater number of Nebraska apprentices and companies taking part.”

The apprenticeship hub will conduct outreach and education to help employers better understand what registered apprenticeships are and how they can be implemented in their businesses by partnering with Project ELEVATE.

“Chief Industries is very excited to be working with Central Community College in developing a strong apprenticeship program,” said Lori Schuppan, Chief Industries human resources director. “Mentoring the student workers has been a very positive experience and Chief employees enjoy sharing their knowledge and helping students improve their skills. The Registered Apprenticeship Program is one strategy used to build our teams for the future.”