For Immediate Release

Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership Receives Approval for $4M Grant to Launch New Construction Workforce Initiative with the Illinois Tollway

New Initiative Will Increase Diversity Among Workers and Ensure Access to Job Opportunities

CHICAGO, IL – The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership) will launch a new construction workforce initiative in collaboration with the Illinois Tollway after receiving unanimous approval from the Tollway’s board.  The Partnership will provide pre-apprenticeship training and support services to underemployed men and women seeking jobs and career opportunities in the highway construction industry, including members of minority groups, women, and veterans.

The Tollway’s construction workforce initiative is expected to train and place at least 150 individuals in apprenticeship and training programs or advance participation within the skilled trades during an initial three-year term, with an emphasis on heavy highway skilled construction trades.

“We were honored to be deemed the successful bidder for the Workforce Development Technical Assistance Initiative,” said Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership Karin M. Norington-Reaves, CEO.  “The work contemplated in this program falls squarely within our expertise and passion.”

The services will allow the Tollway to launch a new construction workforce initiative with the goal of increasing access to opportunities for underrepresented individuals within the critical heavy-highway construction industry needed to work on construction projects as part of the Tollway’s 15-year, $14 billion Move Illinois Program. These jobs include including laborers, equipment operators, carpenters, electricians, ironworkers and cement masons.

“We want to broaden our base of new candidates interested in heavy highway construction careers because it is vital to the region that the people working on Tollway projects reflect the rich diversity of the customers and communities we serve each day,” said Illinois Tollway Board Member Corey Brooks, chairman of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. “We are extremely pleased to recommend this team of experienced, accomplished professionals to administer this crucial workforce development program on our behalf.”

Under the 3-year, $4.2 million contracts, The Partnership will assemble and manage a consortium of service providers and affiliated agencies to provide a range of services on behalf of the Tollway including recruiting eligible participants, conducting pre-apprenticeship training and providing ongoing support and case management services. Services will be available at designated locations in Chicago, the Suburban Cook County, Waukegan, Aurora, and Rockford.

Further, The Partnership will help identify and directly place trainees in meaningful construction industry opportunities, such as U.S. Department of Labor-approved apprenticeships and training programs, while also assisting underemployed construction industry workers seeking to move into more highly-skilled trades through referrals to basic skills and adult education resources.

The Partnership will be responsible for developing relationships with key stakeholders including trade associations, construction contractors, and other regional transportation agencies to broaden the reach and impact of the Tollway’s construction workforce initiative. Eligibility is determined by federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act standards. The Partnership was selected based on the strength of their submittal, which detailed prior success managing construction workforce development initiatives for public sector clients such as the Chicago Transit Authority and Cook County Health and Hospital Systems. The organization has also established funding relationships with private foundations like the Walmart Foundation, Citi Foundation, and AARP Foundation, and has experience managing large consortiums with partners such as the United Way, the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Chicago & Cook County Building & Construction Trades Council.

Additionally, The Partnership is collaborating with workforce development partners in Aurora, Waukegan, and Rockford, which are potential areas of expansion where the Tollway seeks to establish the Workforce Development Initiative. In 2017, The Partnership managed a budget of $70.6 million to administer workforce programs across Chicago and Cook County.

About The Partnership

The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership) is a non-profit umbrella organization operating the public workforce system for the City of Chicago and Cook County.

The Partnership combines federal and philanthropic resources to provide comprehensive workforce development services to employers and job seekers. As the largest public workforce development system in the nation, The Partnership has helped place more than 70,000 individuals in employment; collaborated with more than 2,000 employers; and administered more than $400 million in federal and philanthropic funds. The Partnership’s network consists of 90+ community-based organizations, American Job Centers, satellite sites and sector-driven centers, serving more than 140,000 people annually.  Learn more at

About Move Illinois

The Illinois Tollway’s 15-year, $14 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future, is improving mobility, relieving congestion, reducing pollution, creating as many as 120,000 jobs and linking economies throughout the region. The first five years of Move Illinois is on schedule and within budget, delivering the rebuilt and widened Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) as a state-of-the-art 21st-century corridor and opening a new interchange connecting the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) to I-57. Progress continues on projects addressing the remaining needs of the existing Tollway system, delivering the Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project and planning for emerging projects, including reconstruction of the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294).

About the Illinois Tollway

The Illinois Tollway is a user-fee system that receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations. The agency maintains and operates 294 miles of roadways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois, including the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355), the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90), the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80) and the Illinois Route 390 Tollway.