Bradley University wins $2M EDA Grant Award

Bradley University is the recipient of a nearly $2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency. The award is the result of a successful partnership with Illinois Central College (the lead awardee) and Eureka College to bring roughly $15 million to Greater Peoria and Central Illinois. The purpose is to develop and sustain a pipeline of information technology professionals to support the growing needs of local business and nonprofit organizations.

Under the umbrella of the American Rescue Plan Good Challenge Grant to fund workforce programs, the Bradley-ICC-Eureka team secured one of the 32 awards made nationwide. There were over 509 applications from across the country.

“Building relationships with local businesses and non-profit organizations – including great educational partners like Illinois Central College, Eureka College, the University of Illinois College of Medicine, and our local school districts – is part of Bradley’s DNA and our strategic plan, said Bradley University President Stephen Standifird. “And as such, we are thrilled to stand as a strong partner to ICC and the broader community.”

Specific impacts of the award to Bradley include:

  • Compensation, fringes, and laptops to support affiliate micro-credential course developers and instructors for health care IT non-credit programs, math and tech trade programs, programming credentials, junior and senior high school STEM camps, a full-time program director for Continuing Education, and an instructional designer;
  • $25,000 for a one-button studio recording studio in Westlake Hall for faculty and students to create online courses and presentations;
  • Development of a “Braves Summer STEM Academy” for underserved junior and senior high school students;
  • $75,000 for Continuing Education and Professional Development’s community laptop loan program for learners enrolled in the micro-credentials;
  • Funds to cover the cost of industry certification testing fees;
  • Learning management system use fees, registration system fees, and digital badges/certificate fees to cover Continuing Education and Professional Development's cost for enrollments; and
  • Marketing and recruiting costs.

“The project is designed to create a sustainable IT workforce ecosystem in Central Illinois,” said Christopher Jones, vice president for strategy and innovation and institutional lead for the project. “This sectoral partnership will use a supply chain approach to construct a pipeline of individuals who are credentialed in areas that specifically address employers’ IT skills needs.”

Michelle Riggio Rarick, interim executive director of Continuing Education and Professional Development, serves as the project manager and operational lead for Bradley University in this cross-institutional, educational partnership. Riggio Rarick was the key player contributing to Bradley’s substantial EDA award.

“I am very grateful for Michelle’s high-quality work as well as for the assistance of Dr. Brad Andersh, our very capable Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs and a number of other colleagues across campus,” said Jones.

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