A new initiative from the City Colleges of Chicago called Future Ready is providing more than 60 career-training programs to city residents for free.
The programs, beginning this fall, are aimed at helping Chicagoans start or resume their college education as communities and economies continue dealing with the added pressures of COVID-19.
City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado said the system saw an enrollment decrease of about 10% since the pandemic hit, with Black and Latino men making up the largest portion of the decline.
Erik Zetina, a student at Wilbur Wright College enrolled in Future Ready, will be resuming his classes this fall semester for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Two years ago, that was the last time I attended school,” Zetina said. “I wasn’t making enough at my job, so I had to pause my education to save up money to pay my debt, to have money for books, for my classes. It was really tough on me two years ago.”
Zetina says the Future Ready program has helped alleviate some of his financial burdens while he pursues his degree in criminal justice.
Salgado said these programs are free for anyone living in the city, regardless of citizenship status.
“It benefits me because I can get a certificate and I can put it on my resume to better strengthen my chances to become what I truly want to become as a police officer,” Zetina said.
City Colleges of Chicago will require weekly COVID-19 testing for students who don’t show proof of vaccination.