With baby boomers preparing to retire from the ranks of the skilled workforce, a growing number of labor experts are raising concerns there is a shortage of workers with the critical skills required to replace retirees. Recognizing the growing need, facility maintenance supplier Grainger today announced an almost fourfold increase in its technical education scholarship program from the original nine community colleges to 35 across the country.

"The economic health of America depends on the availability of qualified, skilled workers," says Grainger president and CEO James T. Ryan. "Grainger is proud to help students complete their technical education through our Tools for Tomorrow scholarship program."

The expansion comes at the beginning of the third year of the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship program. The program provides funding for students at select community colleges throughout the nation to finish their second year of a technical career program such as HVAC, Welding, Electrical, Plumbing, or Construction Management. Upon graduation, the program recognizes their achievement with a Westward tool package to successfully launch their careers.

"Students enrolled in technical career programs will help to meet a serious and growing skills gap in our country," says American Association of Community Colleges President George R. Boggs. "By stepping up to support their efforts, Grainger is not only helping deserving students, but the company is also investing in our nation's economic success."

"I've always wanted to venture into the construction management field," says Baltimore resident Cherylle Brown, who was one of nine scholarship recipients in the 2007 academic year. "A few of my professional goals are to start my own construction company, encourage other women to enter the construction management field, and help them develop the skills and business acumen needed to be successful in this industry. With this scholarship, Grainger has helped give me the opportunity to realize my goals."

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College student Brandon Bogle also benefited from the program last year. "After working a few years in other jobs, I decided that the best way to successfully support our four children was to go back to school and earn a degree," says Bogle. "I'm grateful that Grainger's generous contribution has helped to further my career in electrical engineering and computer technologies."

Grainger and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) continue to work together to promote the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship program at 35 selected AACC member colleges across the country. To date, Grainger has helped 16 students complete their technical education programs as part of this effort.

2008 participating schools include:

  • Athens Technical College: Athens, Ga.
  • Central Virginia Community College: Lynchburg, Va.
  • Cincinnati State and Technical College: Cincinnati
  • College of Lake County: Grayslake, Ill.
  • Community College of Allegheny County: Pittsburgh
  • Community College of Baltimore County: Baltimore
  • Community College of Southern Nevada: Las Vegas
  • Elgin Community College: Elgin, Ill.
  • Fletcher Technical Community College: Houma, La.
  • Florida Community College: Jacksonville, Fla.
  • GateWay Community College: Phoenix
  • Gateway Community College: New Haven, Conn.
  • Henry Ford Community College: Detroit
  • Honolulu Community College: Honolulu
  • Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana: Indianapolis
  • Joliet Junior College: Joliet, Ill.
  • Kirkwood Community College: Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
  • LA Trade Tech: Los Angeles
  • Metropolitan Community College: Kansas City, Mo.
  • Miami Dade College: Miami
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College: Milwaukee
  • Minneapolis Community and Technical College: Minneapolis
  • North Lake College: Irving, Texas
  • Portland Community College: Portland
  • Queensborough Community College: Bayside, N.Y.
  • Red Rocks Community College: Lakewood, Co.
  • Saddleback College: Mission Viejo, Calif.
  • Salt Lake Community College: Salt Lake City
  • San Jose City College: San Jose, Calif.
  • South Seattle Community College: Seattle
  • Springfield Technical Community College: Springfield, Mass.
  • St. Louis Community College: St. Louis
  • St. Paul College: Twin Cities, Minn.
  • U of Alaska Fairbanks-Tanana: Fairbanks, Ark.
  • South Texas College: McAllen, Texas

For more information about the AACC, please contact Norma Kent, vice president of communications at 202-728-0200, ext. 209, or nkent@aacc.nche.edu. Students attending one of the above mentioned schools interested in applying for a scholarship should contact the dean of the trade program.