METALLICA recently gave Grand Rapids Community College a $100,000 grant to provide more opportunities for nontraditional students to get welding skills that could lead to jobs in the future.
According to WZZM13.com, frontman James Hetfield met with GRCC president Bill Pink before the band's concert in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Wednesday (March 13) to talk about skilled labor and helping people get jobs
"[Hetfield] expressed a desire to see the funding from the band going toward programs that help people get skills they need to get good jobs," Pink said. "He was very focused on the idea of helping people."
GRCC leaders presented Hetfield with gifts, including a decorative steel guitar crafted by welding professors.
GRCC is one of 10 colleges selected nationwide for the "Metallica Scholars" grant. The band's All Within My Hands Foundation teamed up with the American Association of Community Colleges on the project, aimed at providing workforce training for community college students and reinvesting in cities where the band has toured.
"All of us in the band feel fortunate that music has provided us the opportunity to be successful doing something we are passionate about," said Lars Ulrich, METALLICA's co-founder and drummer. "We want to share our success with others so that they can find a job where they can do the same."
GRCC will use the funding to launch an intensive welding program targeted toward nontraditional students that takes less time to complete than traditional courses. It will also feature smaller class sizes with flexible scheduling options and career preparation assistance.
"We're excited that METALLICA and AACC will partner with GRCC to expand opportunities for people in West Michigan to gain in-demand skills leading to rewarding careers," Pink said. "Our programs prepare people for great jobs today and build on those skills as they start down a pathway of lifelong learning. This partnership will assist us in this work."
GRCC will partner with local employers so students can participate in site visits, employee panels and mentoring to help them determine if welding is a good fit for their career goals. Each student will participate in individualized career-preparation with GRCC to ensure they are job ready upon completion of their welding license.
METALLICA established the All Within My Hands Foundation in 2017 to invest in the people and places that have supported the band. The foundation previously supported efforts to fight hunger and provide emergency community aid, and is expanding its mission to include support for career and technical education.
"The goal of our 'Metallica Scholars' initiative is to improve career opportunities for community college students in the trades," said Edward Frank, the foundation's executive director. "Equally, we hope to raise the awareness of the tremendous importance, value and impact of the education provided by our nation's community college system. The foundation and the band are thrilled by the quality of proposals we received from these colleges, and are excited to do our part to help educate students so that they have the skills and training necessary to find meaningful and well-paying jobs in their communities."
The American Association of Community Colleges is a Washington, D.C.-based organization that represents the nation's 1,103 community colleges.
"We welcome METALLICA as a partner in the career and technical education work of the nation's community colleges," said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC's president and CEO. "Colleges across the country provide pathways to well-paying jobs through programs, services and training that lead to in-demand skills, certificates and degrees for students. These programs are responsive to the needs of local businesses and provide a pipeline of qualified workers to local industry. It's a win-win for our students and the local economy. For METALLICA to see the benefit of these programs and invest in the communities that have supported them is a testament to the power of education and we are proud to do this work with them."
Grand Rapids Community College is joined by colleges in North Carolina, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Wisconsin, Texas, Idaho, Washington and Kansas in receiving the grants.
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC's downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.