NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Heartland Community College in Normal is getting more than $1 million, under Illinois’ Workforce Equity Initiative grant program.

Funding for the program, allocated by the Illinois General Assembly, is aimed at addressing education and employment gaps for African Americans and other minority communities.

“It was a program that was really spearheaded by representative Jehan Gordon-Booth, and The Black Caucus and The General Assembly to get this program developed,” said Illinois Community College Board Executive Director Brian Durham.

Durham said colleges awarded the funding had to show they would be able to meet certain requirements, including helping community members turned program participants, earn 30% above the living wage.

Something Heartland President Dr. Keith Cornille felt his school will be able to do.

“We know it’s going to help people in our community to get a job, a better job, and move them on to a career,” said Dr. Cornille.

Cornille added the funding will help with tuition and fees and offset costs for transportation.

“As well as providing a small stipend for the individuals, because in some cases, they’re not gonna be able to work, or have to work less in order to complete the program,” said Dr. Cornille.

He said the programs they are focusing on for this grant are short-term stackable credentials, designed to get students into the workforce quickly, but can also be built upon to earn an Associate degree.

“Things like industrial maintenance, and some of our health programs, we have shorter-term health programs like medical assistants, and CNA, as well as some programs that advance on to things like electric vehicle technician,” said Dr. Cornille.