RVC launches new career-readiness program in local school districts

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ROCKFORD (WREX) – College is coming to high school classrooms across the Stateline.

“We’ve discovered it’s a lot cheaper to change your major in Belvidere High School or Belvidere North,” said Belvidere School District’s director of career readiness Nik Butenhoff.

This fall, Rock Valley College rolled out a new program called Linking Talent with Opportunity.  And it’s goal is just that to link more students to career opportunities here in our area.

“That’s what I think everyone in education did this for, to get young people ready for whatever’s next in their lives,” Butenhoff said.

Belvidere School District is one of three districts partnering with RVC to build what are called career pathways for students.

“Every one of our freshmen this winter will choose from one of seven endorsement areas and begin down a career pathway beginning next school year,” Butenhoff said.

Unlike other dual credit programs, Linking Talent with Opportunity brings qualified teachers to the high school to teach college level courses. And allows students to earn anywhere from 3 to 12 credits for their future education.

“These pathways are going to allow students to either jump into the pathway and say yes, this is what i want or no, save me, without having to spend thousands of thousands of dollars,” said RVC pathway coordinator Tess Hastings.

RVC says that’s not just a big win for students and families, but also northern Illinois as it continues to face a shortage in the skilled labor workforce.

“We want to provide a skilled workforce for our regional employers, which then results in jobs that pay livable wages, which in turn helps our economy and results in a thriving community,” said RVC’s executive director of early college Kelly Cooper.

Linking students and the community  to what school leaders hope is a successful future.

Rock Valley College received a $675,000 grant earlier this year to help fund this new program, which also includes Highland Community College. It’s goal is eventually include more than nine pathways at school districts across the region.

Taylor Utzig

Taylor Utzig


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