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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Governor Whitmer announces "Futures for Frontliners" - free college tuition for frontline workers

Grocery store worker checking a customer out
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Last week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the launching of a program providing coronavirus pandemic frontline workers the opportunity to pursue higher education at no cost. Brandy Johnson is the Governor’s policy advisor for education and workforce, she says the “Futures for Frontliners ” program will assist grocery store employees, day care providers, sanitation and delivery workers.

“People that had to leave their house and were not able to stay home in order to stay safe and performed a job that was public facing in some way.”

Short-term funding for the program would come from the Federal government’s CARES ACT relief package. Long-term funding would come from the governor’s educational relief fund along with workforce dollars from the federal government.

Jacob Mass, CEO for West Michigan Works, says he would like to see resources also allocated for those unemployed before the pandemic.

“You know we had individuals unemployed prior to and we are going to have individuals that are unemployed afterwards and we still need to make sure that we are keeping in mind that there needs to be resources for those individuals and they don’t get further left behind.”

Before Michigan’s stay at home order was implemented, funds for Michigan Reconnect, a higher education financial assistance program for Michigan adults, was vetoed redirecting funds to help with the Covid-19 pandemic response. According to Johnson that program would have cost $35 million dollars per year to implement and the Futures for Frontliners would be a fraction of that cost.